I like to mend.

I confess to satisfaction —
stitching a torn seam,
patching a ragged knee
prolonging hope and expectation.

My mother lowered hems,
inserted gussets as we grew.
Pajamas, blouses, fancy gowns
struggled from her old Singer.
The treadle rattled steadily.
Her hands straddled the presser-foot
held fabric taut as her determination
to dress us as well as well-off neighbors.

She knew her materials:
satin and flannel, calico, taffeta,
corduroy, poplin, percale, dotted swiss ­—
her daughters and sons, striving
to be grateful, to do her proud
in hand-sewn woolens,
but itching to be free.

Yes, I like to mend.

It’s not the shame of poverty that
drives my needle to pierce
the denim or piqué,
just pleasure of performance,
the relief of split repaired.
Not to put too fine a point on it,
perhaps an accidental drop of blood
like that of Snow White’s mother
will some day baste my mother’s
patchwork life to mine.