For now, she can hold anything together with the right thread. She mends holes, stitches emptiness with color, covers pillowcases in meadows, dishtowels in bluebells. The needle makes it hers. She can fix anything, even her reckless dreams, the angry children, the husband with too many hands. She doesn’t know yet she’ll be tethered to oxygen or about the motorcycle accident that will take her son. No, for now, the hoop in her left hand is a portal. Her right hand, piercing down, is god. She’ll never learn to cook. She’ll try to paint. Every plant will hang in macrame. In fifty years, everything will have yellowed: landscapes of daises, a parade of elephants, aphorisms surrounded by French knots. A water-stained toaster cozy sprawling with vines. They’ll ask, who made this? Someone will try to remember. Her stitches, these moments of claiming, like flags: I was here, thread says, tongue- slicked cotton flat against linen, a record of a particular desiring hand, tied off and trimmed, knot sharp with want.
I’m researching the best way to preserve fabrics, investigating acid-free tissue paper and archival boxes. The women in my family
have always been making something. No one taught us what is worth saving or how to care for what you create: resources are too much.
This quilt, white with blue flowers, like dinner plates, is disintegrating. The thread seems to dissolve. It is expensive to decide either way.
The quilt is evaporating in my hands. Someone pulled the needle through. Someone tied the knot. Someone sat in a hard chair at night and choose
this blue, that shape. There is a cost. No one wants to live forever. But these women. I trace the stitches like handholds, like warning signs.
All I know is this time, someone kept the quilt. We don’t save, but we long for. We hold on.
-- Callista Buchen is the author of the full-length collection Look Look Look (Black Lawrence Press, 2019), and the chapbooks The Bloody Planet (Black Lawrence Press, 2015) and Double-Mouthed (dancing girl press, 2016). Her work appears in Harpur Palate, Puerto del Sol, Fourteen Hills, and many other journals. She is the winner of the DIAGRAM’s essay contest and the C.D Wright conference’s Emerging Writer award.