SEAMSTRESS MASTERS HER CRAFT
By Joanne M. Clarkson of Olympia, Washington
Her life is cloth; it is how she
sees. Draped or fitted, each
body seeks its narrow rainbow of
texture and motion,
weight and weave.
From her grandmother who reared her, who
could design a gown, tailor a suit after
a single sitting in the same way
a musician can re-create at the keyboard
after hearing a melody once.
Her schooling was not at machines, although
machines have their use, or in stitches
although she knows at least two
hundred by heart, but in museums
On Sundays viewing the masters: how
they arrayed saints, angels, nymphs
and virgins, kings,
peasants and gods, each in his own
folds. She crawled into
sleeves, lifted a hem, turned
a queen around.
Back in her workspace, on an upper
story, facing east or west where
light is at its most suggestive,
she envisions the scissor’s
first bite and begins, working for
hours, days a week, time with no
mind, only fingers, until she knows
the pattern so well that each garment
sews itself, a soul worn
inside out, sacred to the skin.