Sunday, April 07, 2013

Common Inspiration--Uncommon Creations.7

Lockstitch
By ru:user:NikolayS (ru:Файл:Lockstitch.gif) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0, GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The very last category in the Featured Pictures section of Wikimedia Commons is Animations. This animation of a sewing machine completing a lockstitch opened the door on a flood of memories of my mother, her little black Singer sewing machine, and all of the clothes she made for me and my dolls.

In my notebook, I jotted:

me by the front door
Easter Dress
daisies, yellow sash, folded socks, white patent leather shoes

eighth inch buttons on Barbie's clothes

patterns--tissue--pins--pinking shears

(It was at about this point that I started crying, and I didn't stop until my poem was done. Who knew that the animation of a sewing machine's stitch could unleash such a flood of memories?)

precision, measured
constant
love


And here's my poem:

A MOTHER'S LOVE

A mother's love:
measured in yards
of fabric on the dining room table
and rows of eighth inch 
doll clothes buttons.

A mother's love:
tissue-patterned
with traditions and rituals,
lockstitching the seams
of son-daughter-husband-family.

A mother's love:
made from scratch,
sturdy and functional, but embellished
with rick rack and sequins
and pearl head snaps.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2013




We work in conjunction,
you and I,
collaborators on this intricate design.

As you step up,
I move down;
as you dance in,
I shuffle out.

We shift gears in lock-step,
sewing together this family
with threads from the tapestry
of our own parents' history ...

genetics as the glue that binds.

©Kevin Hodgson, 2013


From Carol (Carol's Corner)

"Sewing Lesson"
Grandma Grace
detrains
in a stunning
cardinal red wool coat.
"She made it herself,"
my mother says.
"I didn't inherit the sewing gene,
But she can teach you to sew."

At the fabric store
we sit on high stools
perusing the willowy brunette models
in wide swirling skirts
that spin across the pages
of the Butterick and Simplicity catalogues.
I imagine twirling through the halls
at James Madison Elementary School
my own wide spinning skirt.

Grandma Grace commandeers
the dining room table
and we pin rustling paper patterns
to colorful cotton cloth.
My grandmother exhorts me
to cut carefully
makes me re-pin
more than once.
I draw blood and
Grandma Grace
dabs my finger
with a tissue wadded
from her apron pocket.

And then we are ready for the machine.
I practice on scraps of cloth
until my grandmother declares
me ready to assemble the pieces
of my gorgeous swirling skirt.
It is hard to make straight seams
and I become well-acquainted
with the seam ripper.
Zippers are harder still.

And then my dress is done.
I model from my runway
on the dining room table
disappointed that
the chubby little girl
in the straight cotton shift
with the resewn seams
and crooked zipper
looks nothing like
those willowy brunette models
in their beautiful swirling skirts.

(c) Carol Wilcox, 2013





The theme of my 2013 National Poetry Month Project is 


"Common Inspiration--Uncommon Creations." 


Each day in April, I will feature media from the Wikimedia Commons ("a database of 16,565,065 freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute") along with bits and pieces of my brainstorming and both unfinished and finished poems.

I will be using the media to inspire my poetry, but I am going to invite my students to use my daily media picks to inspire any original creation: poems, stories, comics, music, videos, sculptures, drawings...anything!

You are invited to join the fun, too! Leave a link to your creation in the comments and I'll add it to that day's post. I'll add pictures of my students' work throughout the month as well.

14 comments:

  1. Wow, Mary Lee, just wow! Your poem gave me goosebumps. Those details- the tissue paper patterns, eighth inch buttons, the rick rack, and sequins, and pearl head snaps! And how all of that was a metaphor for your mom doing something so functional to sew the family together. Perfect! This made me cry too!
    I haven't written my poem yet, but did start brainstorming some stuff that might go into it.

    Mine so far seems like it's about my grandmother teaching me to sew. And one of the first things I wrote was about unfolding the tissue paper patterns and laying them on the dining room table. Wonder why that rustle is such a memory for both of us?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These sewing memories go DEEP, don't they? And like Kevin's poem yesterday, "There's some metaphor at work here..."

      Delete
  2. Mary Lee! Wow! From the fascinating animated sewing machine to the very heartfelt poetic remembrance. I'm deeply moved.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We work in conjunction,
    you and I,
    collaborators on this intricate design.

    As you step up,
    I move down;
    as you dance in,
    I shuffle out.

    We shift gears in lock-step,
    sewing together this family
    with threads from the tapestry
    of our own parents' history ...

    genetics as the glue that binds.

    -Kevin


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love how you brought it back to collaboration, Kevin!

      Delete
  4. Once again you touched a nerve-not with sewing because I can't sew a button on but with those treasured memories as your children grow older and you realize that those are memories of the past. Thanks friend :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Mothers do so much to make sure their children have cherished memories!

      Delete
  5. Oh Mary Lee, this is stunning. I got teary-eyed too as I have some similar memories from my grandmother. You do such an excellent job with choosing the right specific details to share with us.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Sewing Lesson"

    Grandma Grace
    detrains
    in a stunning
    cardinal red wool coat.
    "She made it herself,"
    my mother says.
    "I didn't inherit the sewing gene,
    But she can teach you to sew."

    At the fabric store
    we sit on high stools
    perusing the willowy brunette models
    in wide swirling skirts
    that spin across the pages
    of the Butterick and Simplicity catalogues.
    I imagine twirling through the halls
    at James Madison Elementary School
    my own wide spinning skirt.

    Grandma Grace commandeers
    the dining room table
    and we pin rustling paper patterns
    to colorful cotton cloth.
    My grandmother exhorts me
    to cut carefully
    makes me re-pin
    more than once.
    I draw blood and
    Grandma Grace
    dabs my finger
    with a tissue wadded
    from her apron pocket.

    And then we are ready for the machine.
    I practice on scraps of cloth
    until my grandmother declares
    me ready to assemble the pieces
    of my gorgeous swirling skirt.
    It is hard to make straight seams
    and I become well-acquainted
    with the seam ripper.
    Zippers are harder still.

    And then my dress is done.
    I model from my runway
    on the dining room table
    disappointed that
    the chubby little girl
    in the straight cotton shift
    with the resewn seams
    and crooked zipper
    looks nothing like
    those willowy brunette models
    in their beautiful swirling skirts.
    Carol Wilcox, (c) 2013

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Butterick and Simplicity. Smooth and easy. They never were either of those.

      Delete
  7. True that! I haven't been in the pattern department of a fabric store in years. Wondering if they still have patterns like that? Probably not?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, there are still patterns, because I've helped students learn to sew, just as you had those memories, some of my students chose to study design & needed to learn to sew in order to create the designs. All of your poems are so beautiful, evocative of those times, when mothers and grandmothers worked hard and did so much, cooking, cleaning, sewing. My mother made almost all my clothes and taught me how too, and I taught my daughter, & actually my son too, at least how to use the sewing machine & to mend with it. Going to the fabric store was a special thing, & Carol, I too wanted to look like those slimmer women! Wow-I think your poems have inspired many memories. Lovely to remember!

    ReplyDelete
  9. The image was just right for conjuring up some poems filled with family love. I used to sew for my three girls when they were young. I learned to smock and made many little dresses. Not sure if I will pick it up again though. That time seems past for me. Maybe there is a poem in these thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This animation is mesmerizing! Mary Lee, I love the repeating line "A mother's love" paired with all the descriptions you give. I am sharing this poem with my mother-in-law, who sews so many beautiful things for her family. I read this post with my daughter, who sews with grandma, to see if it would inspire any words for her--She came up with a couple lines right away, even though she was dismissive about having anything in mind, at first.

    I'm really enjoying this exercise in poetry! You and your contributors, Kevin and Carol, are talented poets--Keep the poems coming--I'll work on writing something, too!

    ReplyDelete

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