Monday, July 17, 2006

Knitting Serpent

Knitting Serpent

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,
wandering wildly

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.
There, only
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.


chiefbiscuit said...

I love knitting but have given it up to write (apart from knitting a jersey for my son two winters ago ...) Sometimes i go into a wool shop and ust sniff in that wonderful smell of skeins, and dream. But i know i can't do both - knit and write. So for now i write. But one day ... I might just knit instead!
Loved your poem -I have been there - exactly there!

Cailleach said...

I agree, knitting, although something I can do while watching telly, does take up a lot of time - so it's one or the other :¬)
Thanks for your warm comments

Dick Jones said...

Excellent - narrative, reflective, symbolic & simply a fascinating depiction of a process arcane to anyone not experienced in it. A powerful & evocative piece.

Minx said...

Lovely 'twisting' Cailleach, liked!

apprentice said...

Lovely piece. It's amazing the way a pupil can go beyond the teacher, but could never have started without them.

It's a dying art, I hear the Fair Isle adbertised for knitters to come to and live there. I used to be able to do a few stiches, but my tension was never great. It is an amazing art form. I think it's part maths part music. Maybe it's something about the rythme.

Cailleach said...

Thanks to Minx, Dick Jones and Apprentice. I used to find knitting very therapeutic - but its a winter thing, I think - warm fires and something really interesting on the box.