Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE QUILT, by KAREN SWENSON



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THE QUILT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Alive in a brown stucco house
Last Line: She smoothed the quilt across their bed.
Subject(s): Quilts; Sewing; Women


Alive in a brown stucco house
picketed by thorns of a barberry hedge
(in fall their berries spattered red
as a smashed Christmas ball)

she sat at the front window in
a horsehair rocker sleek as
the bottoms of her pots and pans.

She hated as she dug the needle
into the widening pattern of the quilt -
a patchwork of her deciduous dresses

radiating from the center of satin,
white stone cast first.
The memories of material
spread their circles around it.

A swatch of evening dress never worn.
A rectangle of the coat she made herself.
She pinned them and pierced them,

fettering the failures together
with a tense silk thread,
cross stitch, blanket stitch, chain stitch,

her embroidery precise as the steel shaft.
When the design was updated by
the lining of her worn-out suit,
she smoothed the quilt across their bed.





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