Embroidered Field

Who pulled the floss from the skein
and knotted it, choosing
among the colors of flowers the colors of these

perfect, impossible asters, flower within flower,
corymbs and umbels, stitched in a time, I will,
I will not, I will, I will not. Knot.

Who paused, who chose to be quiet
in the light of a window, whose skilfull,
versatile hand laid it in an upstairs room.

Who tore it, who tried to mend.
Who took the cloth from the ragbag, who
wiped the oily crankshaft, the axle, and then his hand,

adding to these decorous flowers
his own scumble and patch.
Who found in the abandoned barn

a crumple, stiff with grease and dust,
which unfolded into a runner embroidered with flowers,
field that was and never was.

First published in The New England Review, 32.1 (2011)

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