Thursday, April 30, 2015

Eavan Boland: "Patchwork"

I have been thinking at random
on the universe
or rather, how nothing in the universe
is random—

(there’s nothing like presumption late at night.)

My sumptuous
trash bag of colors—
Laura Ashley cottons—
waits to be cut
and stitched and patched

but there’s a mechanical feel
about the handle
of my secondhand sewing machine,
with its flowers
and Singer painted orange on it.
And its iron wheel.

My back is to the dark.
Somewhere out there
are stars and bits of stars
and little bits of bits.
And swiftness and brightness and drift.

But is it craft or art?

I will be here
till midnight,
cross-legged in the dining-room,
logging triangles and diamonds,
cutting and aligning,
finding greens in pinks
and burgundies in whites
until I finish it.

There’s no reason in it.

Only when it’s laid
right across the floor,
sphere on square
and seam on seam,
in a good light—
a night-sky spread—
will it start to hit me.

These are not bits.
They are pieces.

And the pieces fit.

"Patchwork" by Eavan Boland, from Outside History: Selected Poems, 1980-1990 (W. W. Norton & Company, 2001). Text as posted at this link on the website of the Irish Studies program at Evergreen State College.

Art credit: Detail of a Night Sky quilt being assembled by Meli,
photographer unknown.

1 comment :

  1. Those last lines really land. Wonderful poem--so evocative of the flow of being immersed in the act of creation that arises in handwork.


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