Poem of the Week, by Jehanne Dubrow

When I was a kid I used to make my own clothes: skirts and pants and shirts and prom dresses. I was/am not a perfectionist and didn’t care about things like cutting straight and matching stripes to stripes and thread color to fabric color (which explains why my elephant bell green and pink striped pants looked the way they did). What I loved instead of perfection was going to thrift stores and spending pennies on old dresses and shirts and cutting them up and turning them into new shirts and skirts and quilts. Making something new out of something old. I still love doing this. One of the quilts on my bed right now contains parts of a dress my grandmother used to wear, parts of an old tablecloth, and embroidered scraps from a skirt I wore to shreds in college. Making a quilt and writing a book feel the same to me. Bits and pieces of old clothes, flickers of images and ideas, put them all together over a long time and one day you wake up and you’ve made a whole new something-out-of-nothing.

Garment Industry
– Jehanne Dubrow

Q: What’s the difference between a tailor and a poet?
        A: One generation.
                                        —Yiddish joke

My mother lifts a seam ripper, its miniature
hook made for a world of tiny violence.

Not only for ripping seams, she says.

There is a thread between us: we work at a
humming machine.

We are shirtwaist and sonnet.

She splits body from sleeve, neck from yoke.

I sift through rag paper, write down the
sound of tearing fabric.

Look. Look at the dress we sew from the shreds
of other things.

 

For more information about Jehanne Dubrow, please click here.