by Lisa Furmanski
‘Twas the sleep of butter and lard, one hundred winters
the dead things, mittens and mince.
Stolid eon of lightlessness,
the stooks lay retting in fields,
only the yellow best for scutching.
No use for royal,
flowers or glaucous, veined leaves.
Nor the brown seeds, almost bitter
pips of apples,
of the sugar and gloss. She drooped
through the hackling: ax into linen,
tea bags. Dear Guests, hers was
never a fairy tale, though pricked
she was by the wheel
(splinter as soporific),
her whetted world picked up and
carried off. All those minutes
boiling the water.
Dun-colored thread and basket, her
motive no more or less than labor,
equal to the pinched
weight of stone
walls. Guests, she has been spent
dully. Root for the moon nursing
at her fingers,
its unwary mouth
rouses her, working the sliver free.
Skein of flax
Maybe it was Hillary, or the wonderful movie Suffragette with Carey Mulligan, or the poems of Linda Gregerson I have been devouring of late, but when I saw the flax in its box and desperately wanted to admire the fortitude and skill that created it, I instead felt the isolation, boredom, and servitude of that work. Maybe it is the isolation, boredom, and servitude of ‘women’s work’ that I do today? In any case, I wanted a large context for this small skein. Plus a fairy tale. Plus a gesture to the audience. I love writing poems that make these things possible.
About Lisa: “I live in Etna with my family, I read voraciously and write when I can.”