This poem is not about knitting wool


My mother’s best friend was a life-long cigarette smoker, and when she was in her eighties, she had terrible COPD . Then, she had a stroke.  I used to visit her with my mother when I was at home.   Here is a poem I wrote about that.  It appeared in my book At the Year’s Elbow:



Deprived of Speech


The woman who smoked

her lungs away

and the woman who had a stroke

both lost the air

for the blood

that fed the mysterious room

in their heads

where speech was produced

like a factory,

a knitting factory,

a knitting machine,

swift and efficient,

effortless, seamless,

where all the wool

shorn from

the sheep of days,

the gathering of sleep,

was spun, colored, threaded,

woven, folded,

and delivered

as sweaters of laughter,

scarves of lies,

blankets of compassion,

coats of narration,

magnificent gloves

of memory,

delicate, precise

tatting of names.


Somewhere in there,

the starving machinery

shut down.


The wool piles up,

comes out of her mouth

in clumps of pronouns

that we must spin clumsily,

knit roughly,

holding the needles


dropping stitches.

Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

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