(In memory of my dear, sweet mother, 1927-2016)
My mother holds the tangled threads
of her five children
gathered in her frail hands,
now adults, all of us,
yet her babies still,
siblings once woven so tightly.
She clutches the flimsy threads
not wanting them to break,
but she knows when her time is done
almost brittle now with age,
will pucker and snap,
like a knitted sweater
frayed at the seams
that slowly unweaves
and shrinks in the wash.
The five of us,
once finely patterned
within the squares
of a cosy quilted comforter,
are now knotted differently,
we are mismatched buttons,
different lines we stitched,
different designs we embroidered,
different templates we followed.
We may have been pierced with needles
or cut with scissors
and discarded like scraps,
but still forever entwined,
criss-crossing like lattice
or unfolding like yards of white lace
or glistening like beaded brocade,
other times jumping through our fitted hoops,
casting each other off.
Sometimes we’re bold like strands of gold
and other times we hide in the folds
as we try to patch our souls.
We are twisted
and at odds
the five of us—
two against three,
three against two—
faded appliqués of assorted shades and sizes
torn from a worn and loving quilted spread,
smothered with pinpricks of jealousy,
and spinning yarns
and piping warped dreams
that don’t gauze the rip
or mend the tear.
We’ve forgotten the wicker basket
from whence we came—
a hamper once filled with love
and accessories with which to mend—
the one the seamstress hovers over,
ever watchful and caring.
But in times of crises—
when pockets are picked
and seams are shattered—
we gather and braid together,
our dyes running forth again
while we weave a tapestry of colours
into a padded patchwork
that frames our mother in love.