If you listen you will
The ceaseless noise of weaving:
The slap of the shuttle or
The careful tatting of a tablecloth;
Knot upon knot and more.
My mother knew this craft,
Made me tighten
A knot for every pain of labor,
Every late-night lingering goodbye.
It was taught to her by Grandmother
Who sits loose and lavender-eyed
In the harsh twilight of unweaving,
She is almost ninety, yet others
Have gone, failed to keep at
They work at a tiny hole
Through which they slip
Before her and without her,
As thoughtlessly as the immortal
Fingers of a child.
We do not seek this bitter end,
An untying of anyone so
Seventeen, so nimble-fingered.
A bowline is cast, a slip-knot
At the last, and having failed,
Hope for salvation: for continuity,
Prayers of square knots.
Prayers pieced together in jute,
In silk threads a novena, in
Between fingers wet with spit
With teeth biting lower lips
Spun in white thread three times
The sacred OM.
We didn't know that all the while,
Just drinking coffee or listening
to the Dead,
Didn't know we'd sit and tat,
Didn't know for years.
Sit, sit, sat, tit-for-tat we
Knotted in families, loves, friends,
Tied while driving cross-country,
Tied while catching glimpses
Or when caught staring.
Are always tending to tablecloths
Are never without holes, that
Are stained with wine-rings and
Crumbs on the wood beneath
Unsettling our recklessly porcelain