Here we are
at the place we thought was so close
to the end of our journeys, the end of the rows.
How much was left we did not understand.
The race began
with your cancer diagnosis, a deadly brand.
The tumor radiated, sounding a rhythm
like a stitch pattern: T3, N1, M0.
In just days
you left for the hospital with a suitcase
full of books you would not read but needed
to remind you who you were before
your head was opened
and you lost
your ability to read, to wear your contacts, to walk
without assistance, to speak clearly, to raise
an eyebrow, to smile with your whole face.
They took you off
the operating table in the evening. I left
the kitchen table where I knit at a frantic pace
every moment you were there.
I cast on
the slippery business of nine stitches
divided between three needles,
then multiplied by two again and again,
counting to twelve
and slipping red rubber markers from one needle
to the next, held by the rhythm of the lace
as the long hours of surgery passed.
I kept knitting
the patterned holes and their paired mendings,
YOs and K2TOGs, radiating outwards
in a pattern of diamonds, all those rows of almost
Six hundred loops.
I am at the end of my own spiral,
at the precipice of this enormous circle,
struggling to learn how to change direction
from what has become
the almost mindless rounds of pattern
to the altogether new: the back and forth
of unlikely stitches following an invisible cast on.
You too cast out
an unimaginable cord that will have to start your new life.
You start the back and forth of trips to a new place:
the radiology center. The doctor marks
the spot on your face,
showing the beam where to enter, where to burn.
It will destroy the fibers of your tissue. It will exhaust you.
The doctor counts out a summer full of dates.
With waste yarn
I try again and again to make the start
which will appear seamless when all is complete. I cry
in frustration at this lace and its promise to sustain me.
When I started
this knitted shawl, that lace edging looked small,
just something to savor and celebrate
when everything complicated had past.
Now as I rip
out rows of varying lengths, with doubled holes
meant to be dealt with by means I cannot trace,
I realize how far this whole thing is from complete.
We no longer know what comes next
and look for grace.
Other lace posts:
1, 2, 3, 4