Unraveling

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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:

UNRAVELING
Slowly I slide stitches off needle,
tug yarn
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,
I see
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
perfect pattern,
perfect yarn,
perfect color,
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.

This
I had not anticipated,
not allowed to slip in,
that I’d be carrying along
on the back
the bobbin of estrangement
every row
every stitch.

Cables emerged,
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 –
quietly, quickly,
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,
and watch
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.

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in poem in the works, poems, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Unraveling

  1. Katie says:

    Marilyn, that’s quite an edit (301 words!).
    But, I think I get it – or should I say
    “I see”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fern Boldt says:

    “something beautiful can still be made of what remains behind.”
    I love that! I’ll hold onto that as we make some life changes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn says:

      I’m glad it’s worth holding onto, Fern. That makes me happy. It was good for me to think it through and write it. The insight about what remains didn’t come until I took the step of letting go of it.

      Like

  3. pastordt says:

    Love, love, love this entire process. Thank you so much for sharing it all, Marilyn. Your finished poem is an absolute gem. Now . . . I’d love to see what you’d do with all those words you didn’t use in this particular setting. I’ll bet some of them would be the start of another beaut. Love to you this winter morning, Marilyn. I’d sure like to sit in a van to the airport again sometime soon. (or at a dinner table or in a small group or whatever . . . )

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Belinda says:

    I loved both versions of the poem, but can really relate to letting go to make space for possibility. It reminds me of my endless quest to declutter our house and my irrational reluctance to let go of some things–magazines I will never read, for instance. Then when I do–freedom! Well, I imagine it WILL be freedom when I do. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn says:

      It is exactly like that, Belinda. (Good luck with the magazine stash. I used to have a pile. They would sit there nagging me all day long. They brought a bad attitude to the house, all that unspoken bullying.)

      Like

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