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Here are two more poems with a word or two of explanation after each one, if needed.
Men once burned for less.
To say the earth was like an orange
or an eyeball -- the very idea of it
And who wanted a globular world
where there was no true center,
where one longitude led to another
until you met yourself coming home, where
huge unspeakable intimacies were not
If the entire landscape of Christendom
felt menaced, is it any wonder
when his sister informs him
the world is round
two year old Oliver races to the kitchen
burying his face in his mother’s side
afraid to let go, certain the ground,
suddenly tentative beneath his feet,
won’t hold onto him?
Seven year old Hannah’s secretly not so sure
she believes it either,
the fact so contrary to common sense.
It’s obvious the planet’s like a table,
or a plate on the table
of the universe: go far enough
and you’ll reach that steep edge
where you teeter, toes clinging
to dirt that crumbles underneath,
praying lest you pitch headlong
and drown in deep sky.
Oliver and Hannah are my younger sister Martha's children, who are growing up now but were young at the time this incident occured. As I recall, Oliver really was only an exceedingly mature and intelligent two year old.
HOME EC 101: SEWING LESSON
Hearing “salvage,” at first I thought
of mildewed designer denim washed ashore
with bottle glass and drifting wooden crates
after a shipwreck,
of estate auctions and “slashed” prices
and white sales on discontinued lines
of towels and bed linen,
of my great grandmother’s
stiff organdy wedding dress, brittle with age,
all she could salvage from the fire
that took the homestead.
Learning the language, I incanted
the names as I fingered them: voile,
muslin, watered silk, homespun,
a Braille of woven threads,
remnants salvaged for patches,
the literature of patterns
sheer as smoke: Simplicity, Butterick
the dizzying sophistications of Vogue
not for the faint-of-heart. . .
Not salvage, selvage,
the finished edge of the material
world, basted to its infinite, weather-rumpled
sky. So, the fabric of women’s work:
One Fate spins with callused fingers,
another weaves our mortal cloth,
and the third sleepily bides,
pinking our seams with her shears.