For Penelope (after Paula Meehan)
Entranced, I used to watch your work
stretch on clicking pins of steel.
One day you taught me how to hold
the twist and make my own work grow.
She took the twine
into the darkened recesses,
But I was always dropping stitches
that unfurled into gaping holes.
Carefully you’d unpick my work
start again and off I’d go.
from season to season.
looking back always,
to trace the twisted cord’s progress.
You set me later to make my own.
I came to hate July’s dead heat
knitting up the bargain yarns
just in time for schools return.
There was no end, no beginning
to her searching, groping blindly
Jane saw all ways - but remained mute,
Then came complicated patterns
a cable, moss stitch or herringbone.
Your tricks taught, corrections made
my new repertoire outgrew yours.
tongue-tied in the web of fine twist.
Her fingers grasped
aching for the end,
We knew my skill beyond yours
I faked your antique designs,
Yet you insisted on your stitches
knitted in the dullest twist.
the centre, the eye of calm.
the shattered symmetry,
Long, since after you unravelled
I still complicate time and stitch.
No threadbare yarn, no knots entangled –
tongue untied by wordy skein.
blood moon radiant.
Fingers crooked behind,
there wasn’t much left to see.