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The Knot, Anonymous


The body of

the mother of

my body sits

small as a nutshell,

in the care-home bed.

Sometimes she hums. Some

times she smiles, wan and gentle.


Her room is bright,

her eyes are bright. Her hands—

frail tiny twig-bones draped

by crepe-pale skin

translucent over blue

and purple veins, all

softer than violets now—

never stop.


She spends her waking days

serenely strumming

at a knot.

She does not pull.

She does not pluck,

She does not tug or force,

and for the last four pages

of her Landscapes

of New Zealand Calendar,

She does not watch her hands.


The lilac colored lace-yarn

with which she began

months ago—crocheting something

. . . something

not recalled . . .

became tangled,

somehow, in the in-between.


The patterned piece she

stopped, too small for use: odd-shaped

for a blanket,

too large for

great

grandchild’s dolls,

rests to one side of her; the

wound-ball skein on

the other. Their knot-connection,

wadded clump of

chaos,

is large, and growing tattered, growing

fatter,

growing grayer.


The knot is its own texture,

its own mass.

Some days

the knot is tight, smaller than

her hands;

some days it’s loose, and larger.

This past March,

the knot-yarn color almost matched

the color of the ball,

and of the thing

she’s made.


Nine times or more, she has spread

that awkward rectangle

across her shrunken lap

(once the throne

of babies, lost or grown,

and lost again),

patted it, bewildered, sighing,

laughed, “I don’t know

what this is. Do you?”


In June, what is nearly gone

is any resemblance the knot

of yarn once had

to both its end and its beginning.


My mother works the knot.


One day I tried, so subtle,

to solve it for her; I cut the knot out,

spliced the yarn

where smooth lilac met with lilac; I

excised the offensive

mismatched useless fractious gray.

Within the week, my mother

had another

knot to work on,

to untangle and

retangle, steady work.


The children nod at

each other when we visit.

The knot now sips her

time, her persistent,

fluttering fingers like pale

hummingbirds hover near two

purple blooms

But only ever drink from the gray.


Oh lost one, let us cut

the thread apart!

We can’t save years of gray

rage ragged pain inflicted

or suffered to be suffered;

Hands and words and sorrows

and unyielding study

have frayed

the sinews, grayed

the colors

of a love that still could end

as we began—

That tangle, useless to make lives of

anyway, let’s throw out

for a simpler knot, a splice to imp the

broken wings

of hearts.



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