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.

Poem of the Week, by Dorianne Laux

Needle and Thread
– Dorianne Laux

It was the sixties, and embroidery was back in,
and if you had jeans torn at the knee, an old
denim jacket, a plain white shirt or a cloth
handbag, I might ask you what you liked
then spend hours alone in my room
with your favorite colors, woven threads
luxurious as a young girl’s hair, practicing
the chain stitch, cross stitch, running stitch,
satin stitch across your ripped skirt until
flowers and suns unfurled, a blustery field
of violet iris, a blind yellow meadow or a deep ravine
that scrolled down your back or pants seam,
red ferns blushing your blouse above
a clavicle, daisy chains circling your cuffs.
I’d return your garment on a day you had almost
forgotten about it, baggy T-shirt, ragged shorts,
laid across my arms so the crewel work
shimmered, patchwork of hearts, patina
of wings, like the riven marble draped
beneath Christ’s Pieta, folds catching the light,
offering it up as a sacrifice, asking nothing in return,
though you bowed your head over it and touched it
with your whorled fingertips, the veined leaf
or cresting wave, frothed, feathered, spiders’ webs
and fleur-de-lis, peace signs and scepters and stars,
then looked up into my face like an alien being, you
who I hardly knew.

​For more information on Dorianne Laux, please click here: http://doriannelaux.com/​


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