Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2010


by Wendy Klein

I’m mending her quilt
a gaudy Katrina survivor,
its appliquéd squares
of cotton and cheesecloth
wearing out, wearing through
the seams slipping,
their stitches parting
from the near-transparent fabric
of old dresses stitched
into a web of former lives
worn tenderly
by frugal women
then consigned
to generational ragbags
Mending her quilt
is a conversation about ancestors,
not always her own - 
about hands that have come to the rescue
threading a tactful needle-path
up and down calico rows
where pink centres make
a cheeky nod to polka dots
while a bold stripe
takes up a floral challenge -
is taunted by geometrics
or a sudden shift in theme.
Some metaphors are inescapable
chase you down backstreets
like the deluge from a levee break
threaten to turn into cliché.
Over time these seams will shift
and gape, the threads
weaken and break.
The fabric will fray
where my clumsy stitches fail
and irreparable holes will appear –
cry out for darning,
for another pair of hands –
the lost art
of mending the unmendable.

Added: 15.03.2010