YOU’VE BEEN READING IT as it came out, warts and all. Thank you for that and for the messages you sent. When I went back to the draft, it was too long for my liking. I told Wally, “I don’t have a good poem, but I do have a good story.” I think I needed the reminder. Anyway…..you might kill me, but I’ve trimmed it to 76 words (from 377). Yes, I had to let go of a few lines I liked a lot, but what it lacks in depth and color, it gains in universality, I think. Here it is:
Slowly I slide stitches off needle,
and watch the unraveling
I’ve needed to accept,
that things will not turn out as first imagined.
Winding the heap of tangles
back into a ball,
what for so long I could not,
that what remains behind
has the makings
of something else, also beautiful
and not destined to always be
the thing that didn’t turn out
but the thing that went on to become.
THANK YOU for the insights you’ve shared while being careful not to tell me how to write it. The biggest risk was that someone might say something that would make me stop or switch hats to editing mode too soon and I’d begin to examine the words before they’d all had a chance to come together. I needed it all to come out and be said. For those who requested seeing the whole draft all together in one place:
UNRAVELING (draft version)
I slide the stitches
off the needle slowly,
tug on the yarn
and watch the unraveling.
It feels like an act of violence.
When the boy had said
“I wish I had an earwarmer like that,”
I went home
and cast about for
then set in place a plan,
a perfect time each day
to work rows
in multiples of eight.
It had been a year then
since I’d seen him
and it could be another year again.
Or less. Or more. Or maybe never.
I hung by a thread, never knowing,
Nightly I picked up the needles.
Kitchen tidy, everything
the appearance of order.
It was then
heart and mind
tip-tapped along together
knitting the details
of all that had happened.
I had not anticipated,
not allowed to slip in,
that I’d be carrying along
on the back
the bobbin of estrangement
twisting and turning.
so many my eye could not discern
where a braid began,
where it was heading
or how we’d come to this point,
until the weight was more than I could carry
and I had to put it down.
I kept it contained
in a cheerful quilted bag
that sat beside my dresser
like a patient in a waiting room,
expecting, every shuffle of activity,
to hear his name called,
but no call comes.
There was nothing in the instructions about this.
(I write these lines while sitting in a waiting room.)
Answers come at their appointed times.
Here, it was two weeks ago Tuesday,
a completely unremarkable morning,
when, first time in two years,
I peeked in the bag
to remember the exact shade of green I had loved.
Right then, sudden and expected, it came –
gentle as a feather falling:
I don’t need to knit this anymore.
It took a few days to muster courage, but now
I slide stitches
off a needle,
the unraveling I’ve needed to accept,
that things will not finish the way I first imagined
…and it’s okay.
I see now
what I could not see for so long,
that something beautiful can still be made
of what remains behind.