Issue Four - June 2002

Double Wedding Ring

By Liza Franzoni

Grandmother,
what secrets did you whisper
to your quilting friends
in hushed tones, lest the menfolk hear?
Did you tell them that your husband beat you?
And let your children starve as he ate his fill?
Or did they know already, and sit neatly stitching
the talk around aches, acknowledged barely with a nod,
a glance, or a quick light touch.
Was this tight stitch I’m touching
with my finger small like yours,
one of buried half-truths
or did you share the pain that seeps
through cracks in the heart
and like coal dust, settles over everything.
And when you were done did your breath
ruffle the scalloped edges of the quilt
and fall away into air?
Did you listen to womenfolk tell their stories
one by one, again and again
of too many children and not enough food?

I ask because I need to know.
I need to know that women have always shared,
stitch by stitch, patch by patch,
saving scraps, patient, slowly sewing
this double wedding ring quilt, so often
an intricate patchwork of cruel marriages
sewn together in linked rings. And know
we remember ourselves and each other,
sharing our power to create beautiful things,
an unbroken inheritance of granddaughters.

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