Friday, June 23, 2006

WHAT COMES NEXT: A Story in Lace

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


Anonymous said...

I am so glad you put down the needles and picked up the pen. Your art is so powerful. I am in awe.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that you needed to put down the needles. Both your knitting and writing are inspiring.

Jennifer Lori said...

Every time I read your entries I just want to cry. Both from the sadness and uncertainty...but also from the beauty of your words. This poem is so touching and moving, please tell us that you're writing it out somewhere a little more real to you, and keeping a copy to treasure.

Anonymous said...

Lovely poem. Thank you for sharing something so personal and important.

xmasberry said...

lovely poem with great symbolic connections.

We never know what's coming next, do we? Which is why it is so important to care for each other. Thank you for sharing how you and your father are doing this stretch of life.

Anonymous said...

I was very moved by your poem. I just lost my mother to small cell lung carcinoma 2 weeks ago and cried when I read it, but know from where you write. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I pray for the grace you seek- it's there and you'll find it.

earthchick said...


Best to you and your family.

Ruth said...

I hope grace will come.

Thank you so much for sharing this.

beadlizard said...

You've already found grace.

I wish you patience, acceptance, and lovely moments of time together.

Getting cut open and irradiated is annoying, but being surrounded by the love of family and friends makes each day a blessing.


Leslie Shelor said...

Counting the days and stitches; powerful thoughts and words. Thanks for sharing this!

FRITZ said...

There is nothing I can think to write, except how breathless I am after reading this.

And how very, very sad I feel.

I'm so sorry.

Anonymous said...

I don't even know what else to say. Emotion drenched stitches, emotion drenched poetry...

God, that was really amazing.

Pat K said...

A beautiful poem. Thank you for your comment on mine. Best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...

your words and lace are incredible; I can't come up with words to truely explain how deep they've settled into my soul, but thank you for sharing them.

Theresa said...

Thank you for sharing this powerful poem.


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