Despite the blur and lag of forty years,
this photograph of women five –
the four in black and gray
and just as old as hills with caps of snow in May,
and one, the young, inclined her bel esprit to hide –
brings back a lot of memories and tears.
With crochet hooks and needles long in hand,
they sat on wicker chairs across my home
and knitted yarns and gossiped as in band,
“O my, isn’t she a cow and he a gnome!”
about an oddly looking couple under public gaze,
but never meant to offend a soul in fulsome praise.
And I, a boy engrossed in prankish play,
would sneak behind their backs to cut with shears
I used in art – to their subdued dismay,
the yarns squirming up from sluggish skeins
to slothful fingers wrestling hooks and needles
for slip knots and cast ons and stitches.
Until one summer day the young
caught me in the act and spoke in bitter tongue:
“Our lives are yarns or threads inclined to snap
while weaving patterns by Design
to which all must needs one day resign.
Even the bad and the good and the worst and the best
can not evade or skirt this High and Nigh Behest
entrusted with the Fates whose task is time impressed
(to goad people to their timely bane).
Now, if you, a boy as pure in heart as pain …,
insist on your portentous play and us to harass
the Fates will surely follow suit – alas!
and cut our threads before our time comes.”