A Woman’s Best Garment is Silence

She crafted herself
a new blue suit
of worsted wool
stitched in
lined the jacket with
old friends,
abandoned mother,
Aunt Lee, Uncle Dean,
Old Man River,
dust bowl farms,
Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois
in each seam,
even though she’d
dreamed long
of leaving.

She said
the fabric fell short,
but she borrowed
a secret
from her gran
– a tailor by name
and by trade.
“Bias binding trim
will make the skirt’s
hem drape and swing.

It swished
from her hips
as she stepped
off the train
into Canada’s
wet north coast
and kissed her
natty hatted
who wove
her story
to suit himself.

He called her
his moll,
his Chicago gal,
affixed a pall
of guns and
gangs and
violence as
though it was
all she aspired to
before him.

On their wedding day,
her bespoke bridal suit
spoke for her,
rye and ginger for him.
His avowals renewed
for years every day
piped and
riveted them.

She crafted sweaters
he wore on
the docks.
of purls
and knits,
rib stitch,
seed stitch,
life lines,
her life voiced
in patterns,
tension and
bound in cables
on his back.

Later, she unraveled
each stitch
one by one,
examined each
for  mistakes.
She untold her
loop by loop
and then
knit again.

35 thoughts on “A Woman’s Best Garment is Silence

    • Thanks, Donna. I’m not so sure my mother would appreciate all the ink I’ve used in telling the stories she never told me because she was an intensely private woman but, well, she’s dead and in the absence of having her real story I must make something up!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I don’t quite know what to say, Susanne. There is such powerful imagery in here – “lined the jacket with
    old friends, abandoned mother, Aunt Lee, Uncle Dean” – wow. I simply love your writing and I wondered if there was a familial inspiration to this poem. Glad to see my instincts were correct 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, I’m a member of Josh’s writing group (wish you were here!). I loved the imagery at the end of the poem, where she takes her life’s work apart, analyzes it and puts it back together. As a widow, I related to that personally. Thanks for sharing this. I’ll be following your blog, and invite you to follow mine at dorisreidy.com,


    • Hi Doris, I wish I was there with you all, too! I imagine Josh’s writing group as an open, friendly, and constructive crowd. I’m so pleased you enjoyed this poem which has been sitting on my hard drive for over a year as I tinkered with it. I’m still not 100% pleased with the rhythm but I’ll keep working on it because its become a bit of an obsession.


  3. I never know what to say about poetry, which bums me out. I’m like the person who goes to a museum and says, “I don’t know anything about art but I know what I like.” So, I’ll say it–I don’t know anything about poetry but I like this poem a lot! I like the idea of all the family being sewn into the suit she wore away from them . . .

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow. That was beautiful and you’re such a good writer, Susanne. Such a good writer.

    kissed her
    natty hatted
    who wove
    her story
    to suit himself.

    So good.

    Liked by 1 person

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