128. Afterward: The Quilting

“Pretty Lone Star,
Patty.” Patty
Blushed.
She had been
Assigned a different one,
But she’d brought in
Lone Star, knowing
It was the most
Popular of squares.
Now that they had
Sewn them all
Together, they knelt
To admire.
“Star’s just right in
Center. See that
Gold cloth glow!”
Patty: “Oh, it’s
Nothing. I’ve done
Better.”

“Frame’s
Ready. Raise it!”
The frame now was
Hefted, thick wood
Cumbersome, and
Balanced upon chairs.
They spread out quilt
Backing, cotton batting,
On top, squares.
They would baste these
Layers in quick loops.
“Roll her up”–
The quilt straightened,
Tightened on the frame.
By it they took
Seats. “Now you all
Know the stitch”–
Fragile trace
Resembling spikes of
Wheat, curves
Whirling in one
Pattern through each square.
“Who needs pattern
Drawn on?” All said
No. Pencil
Marks might show–
They had learned to
Judge the stitch by eye.
Each corrected
Her stitch by her neighbor’s,
Angling needles
Into fitting arcs,
Keeping the same
Distance from squares’ sides,
From each star or
Rose–each woman’s
Square her own, but
Good quilting stitching  must
Blend, work as one.

Riah spotted
Tom at Patty’s door.
“Hello, Patty.
Meeting’s been let out.”
Public meeting:
Men were coming home.
“I’ll be darned–”
Tom approached
The frame. He knew
Of the sampler.
“This is it?”
Turned to Mrs. Mack–“It’s
Mighty pretty!”
She smiled–she liked
Tom. And Riah
Smiled. Tom:
“Thought you all lacked
Thread–right kind, I mean.”
Mrs. Neal explained, “Yes,
But you find some
Fifty, sixty spool,
Run through chunk of
Beeswax–does the job.”
“Well, who’d
Think!” Tom nodded.

“There’s that Windmill!”:
He had spied her
Square. “I tell you,
Riah worked on
That down to the bone.
Tore the rascal out
Oh, four, five times.”
“Thomas!” They were
Laughing. “But she
Got it licked, right
Riah? Pretty.
Nearly see
The wind blow through that
Thing.” Vanes
Perfect, true.
Riah, bent to
Stitching, thinking–
Tom looks fine–
Surely does look
Fine–soft hair
And lean fingers,
And that laugh!
We’ll have us some
Nice meal, Riah thought.
She’d saved whites of
Eggs for angel cake.

She observed Tom’s
Eyes upon her fingers,
As her mind turned
Back now to
The quilt.

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One Response to “128. Afterward: The Quilting”

  1. Nicola Says:

    I love this. Reminds me a little of Annie Proulx’s account of quilting in her novel That old Ace in the Hole.

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