Unpicking a pocket

by Catherine Gander

She’d stop her lips with pins and needles;
impossible points glinting from between clenched teeth

to stitch the toes of nylons, the open mouths
of broken seams—collar and neck, armscye and sleeve—

you have to unpick a pocket to mend it,
she’d tell me, twinkling her eye, appreciating her own wit.

I watch her now—memory edging her
small frame in ochre glow, birdlike hands ablur above the cloth,

settling from time to time on the feathered
corners of her chair—alive in a bright alcove of my mind.

A backdrop of dusk descends like an eyelid,
condensing the air, turning her bay windows into mirrors

and I see myself, young and attentive,
awkward bends of knees and elbows, burrowed into cushions.

I pull the vision to me like a blanket.
Gathering is a way to manage fullness: run your stitches parallel,

then draw upon the threads. Her lessons
each were sewn by stealth—she’d hide her handiwork in

invisible sutures, in secret pockets where
she’d leave for me to find a button, a thimble. A method of repair.

— from Juniper Volume 4, Issue 3