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COVID-19 Archive

Images and Stories from Vermont

Assembling (a poem with a mission or, a poem with sewing machine or, a cover for her tiny face) after Marge Piercy’s To Be of Use

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Assembling.pdf

Title

Assembling (a poem with a mission or, a poem with sewing machine or, a cover for her tiny face) after Marge Piercy’s To Be of Use

Creator

Joanne Giannino

Date

May 13, 2020

Contributor

Joanne Giannino

Text

Assembling
(a poem with a mission or, a poem with sewing machine or, a cover for her tiny face)
after Marge Piercy’s To Be of Use
May 13, 2020

I’m sewing (masks)
Russ, my husband, is down the brook
burning whatever he can get his hands on
my hands are busy too
pushing this fabric into this electric machine with some urgency
two layers of quilters cotton
one – a moody blue calico beneath a meadow of lilac blossoms
the second – soft white and dusky blue checks
suitable for a Brooks Brothers button down
the woven strands belie its smoothness
shuffle under my finger prints
glide not so effortlessly over the
porcelain plastic surface of the sewing machine’s lap
the cold steal needle pierces yet binds two layers together
a miracle!
sometimes the threads – two – one from above, one from below
the key to the miracle –fight with one another for dominance
the fabric crouches - in pain? out of fear? ouch? simply to duck and hide?
the whole mechanism suddenly at hostilities, eluding peace
reflexively my foot lifts from the (foot) pedal under the table
hidden source/mystery revealed of all things moving
and I raise the pressor foot (so many foots!)
the regulator out of the way and we re-group
fabric, needle, thread, porcelain lap, my hands, finger prints (and the foots!)
start over – turn the balance wheel by hand
instead of using the pedal
one, two, three stitches forward; one, two, three stitches backward to make a bind
and now with the pedal again we come through to the end of the cotton field and flowers
one, two, three stitches backward and one, two, three stitches forward
-- and we are done.
we lean back, rest.
Meanwhile, the scent of spring’s pruning flame
apple branch, birch, and pine
reaches me through the screen door.

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Citation

Joanne Giannino, “Assembling (a poem with a mission or, a poem with sewing machine or, a cover for her tiny face) after Marge Piercy’s To Be of Use,” COVID-19 Archive, accessed June 19, 2024, https://covid-19.digitalvermont.org/items/show/867.