Poetry On Odyssey: Needles For Sewing, Misused And Marked
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Politics and Activism

Poetry On Odyssey: Needles For Sewing, Misused And Marked

My friend told me something that inspired this poem.

Poetry On Odyssey: Needles For Sewing, Misused And Marked

I was taught to sew by a woman who hid diamonds in her hems.

“You will bleed for this craft.” She told me. “That’s why it’s a woman’s work."

Must we bleed? I asked. We can blunt the needle, use machines, cap our fingers in metal for protection.

“We must bleed for everything love.” She said. “Everything worth bleeding for. Our crafts and our kin and our life, like clockwork. We bleed.” She said. “Because it’s women’s work."

We can blunt the needle. “It won’t pierce the cloth if it won’t pierce our skin."

But we have machines. “They are clumsy and cold. We hold life in our fingertips. It shows in our pain."

And thimbles? “My child, metal helps only one. You have nine others beside it. What of them? What of them?”

So I stitched and I bled and she wiped off my tears; fingertips on my cheeks that were calloused and hard.

She sang as she sewed and she bled less than I did and as the days passed my skin roughened like hers.

But still my hands slipped and I cursed as I bled and she watched as I swore that I hated the task.

And she waited and watched as my eyes lost their rage and I picked up the cloth and I started again.

It’s not fair. I once grumbled. I do what you showed me. The needle just hates me and wants me to bleed.

“My child.” She tutted. “Your tools do not feel. Your fingers will harden and soon you will learn.”

And they did, and I did, and she watched all the while, and soon she told stories as much as she sang.

And I learned as we sat and I learned as she watched she was sewing with diamonds still hidden nearby.

I was taught to sew by a woman who hid diamonds in her hems.

Because once you flee the Nazis once, you’re prepared to flee again.

(Based on a true story.)

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