Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Poetry Tuesday: "Conserving the Scraps"

My brain is going in several directions.  I've been thinking of Mepkin Abbey, since for a few years, I travelled there in February; this year, I'll go in June.  I've been thinking of February holidays.  I've been looking at poems I wrote years (and decades) ago, as I've been looking for inspiration.  I've thought of the poems I've written that look at God in a different light.

I've been thinking of refugees, but I've also been thinking of how many of us are essentially in exile, far from home, unlikely to make our way back. 

My school needs a library assistant, and all night, I dreamed of hiring someone.  I awoke thinking about how much I love the library.

I remembered this poem, based on a real incident, where I saw a woman who was clearly homeless.  She sat in the public library, reading a big book.  Was it a book about quilts or did I make that up for the sake of a better poem?  I don't remember.

I think the poem holds up well, although I wrote it long ago.  It was first published in New Plains Review

Conserving the Scraps

The homeless woman sits in the library
and reads about the art of quilts.
Surrounded by all her worldly possessions, three
grocery bags full, she discovers the history
of this odd art, born
out of desperation
and poverty: the lack of basic supplies, the need
to conserve every scrap.

The homeless woman thinks of her own clothes, patched
so many times that she can’t remember
the original contours of the cloth.
She fingers her garbage bags,
the modern feedsack with multiple uses,
many a rainy night made bearable
by their plastic presence.

The homeless woman reads
the tales of modern quilters and their quest
for quality fabrics.
Unlike them, she appreciates
the durability of polyester, a rugged fabric
well suited for life on the streets.

Later, the homeless woman settles
her garbage bags around her in the shadows
and waits for scurrying sleep to come.
She thinks of cheerful quilt tops,
the differences in batting,
and wishes for warmth to call her own.

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