August 26, 2010

The Seamstress (BTP prompt)

Over at Big Tent Poetry this week, Carolee gave us a very thought-provoking prompt (to pay attention to something you do with your hands, then using that as a jumping off point, write about one of several topics she chose).  I had a bit of trouble with it, but then I happened to replace a missing button...

With needle once again
in hand,
by early morning’s
feeble light,
she begins to
tenderly repair
her garments - old,
worn thin as
laddered gossamer.
 Rejoining seams,
 broken fastenings,
repairing every
rip and tear,
and covering up each
 threadbare hole with
mismatched patches
just as raw.
She sees her work as
smart and fine,
while others see but
 tattered rags.
Yet still she sews.


My poetry is usually as subtle as a grenade...this week I tried to do something different.
I used Carolee's suggestion to write about "physical pain", and this is what I came up with.


  1. I'm glad you told me what this is about, Cynthia. I simply would have seen the mending and perhaps a different sort of struggle. Either way, it's sad.
    If you're in button-sewing mode, I've a couple of shirts I could send over!

  2. Cynthia, I really appreciated your poem, all of the sewing / mending detail you included. I was appreciating the fact that so many women in the 'old days' would do this kind of work as a matter of fact. I would not have seen the domestic violence aspect had you not mentioned it. Still think the poem stands well on its own merit.

  3. I am touched by it. And it still happens here in India. Pretty common I would say..

    designed patterns

  4. Like Derrick and Mary, I read this poem as up-front about the task, and very well written it is, too. Then your process notes shook me up and I had to re-read. Subtle as a grenade is a good description of my min!

  5. I see the imagery in your words, especially old and thin and tattered rags. Why would you need to repair that stuff? Domestic abuse indeed. Very well written!

  6. A fine, delicate piece, Cynthia. It stands on its own, very well.
    May I make a suggestion?
    If you do want to use the poem to make a point about domestic violence, maybe you could use the title to point the reader in that direction. I'd hate to see the poem itself changed, though.

  7. I have family that can make blankets and such with small scraps of material found lying around. Wonderfully written piece! Awesome post!


  8. Cynthia a sad and moving piece of poetry
    nice job!

  9. I knew an elderly woman who darned her ancient underclothing, because she thought she was too poor to replace it. The mind is a strange thing. Beautiful piece of poetry, here!

  10. This reminds me of two things. My Mother doing repairs on all sorts of clothing. The domestic abuse was not hers, but mine. And I didn't make repairs, I threw it out, no matter how new it was.


  11. I love how she sees things differently to the world's view. This was a tender poem, and you don't see many of those around. Lovely.

  12. nicely done....i felt it...thanks for your words again Cynthia

  13. This is really powerful and something I can identify with, more for emotional reasons than physical ones.

  14. "mismatched patches just as raw" was such a vivid line, and the first clue I received that perhaps her work was viewed differently by others. So sweetly done!

  15. I liked this very much and the subtle as a grenade part cracked me up!

  16. There's a lot of emotional resonance in this one. I'm in no way a sewer, but I can understand the perspective completely. And that phrase "laddered gossamer" has a great ring to it.

  17. A subtle portrait. The last line sewed up the resilient energy.