…with more strivings, but drew the child leasurely
with the crochet.
—Percivall Willughby (1596–1685)
By the time I was called for, the child
had lain too long in the womb parched
and drained of all humidity. I found
the woman’s belly still as stone, ointments
placed on her body to cure the scent from the child
cracking inside her. Hastily I compelled her to take
a liquor of milk and pepper, and busied
the midwives with warming bricks in the fire
to place at the poor woman’s feet. I bade her
close her eyes to sleep, and thus she set her head
upon the sheet but could not submit. The metal hook
warmed in my hand. I saw her eyes grow troubled
and I shut the door. In the dream I have of this moment
a ball of yarn is tangled deep inside the womb
and when I pull, pinned to the yarn comes a child’s ear
like a wrinkled dress on a clothesline. And then
a pair of lips that ride the length of the thread
and into my hand like two birds perched upon a branch.
Like this I pull again, pull until I see I am stitching
a child into the air warm as a crocheted blanket, and when
it is finished I place it upon her bed, and she looks
upon the bundle wherein lies a tiny wrinkled foot-
print, proving theirs was once a moist union
in which for many months the child swam
and swallowed. And the mother is warmed
and sleeps. And the hook cools. And the mother lives.
Copyright © Persea Books 2014
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.