I smooth old lace with my fingers,
Perfect machine stitching, perfect hand stitching.
I hold her apron to my face
To feel her close again.
With nimble fingers and a pedal sewing machine,
She made dresses for her girls
As fine as those from Macyâ€™s or Montaldos.
Her hobby, her talent, her love â€“
Always sandwiched between
cooking, laundry, preserving, farming,
She added lace, embroidery, rickrack or fancy buttons
To pockets and collars on little girlsâ€™ dresses and aprons.
Many were sewn from floral feedbags
As crisp as fine Irish linen.
She wore fancy aprons for Sunday dinners
Frying chicken so crispy Col. Saunders would envy her.
Everyday aprons were stained from blackberriesâ€”
For juicy, sweet cobblers, topped with fancy latticework.
In a yellow gingham apron
She cooked fatback, gravy and biscuits
As fluffy as cotton balls,
Flour strewn everywhere.
Some aprons had big pockets for picking up apples
To fry with ham for supper
But the best aprons of all, soft and worn,
Were for drying tears.
I hold it to my face
to feel her close again.
The Color Pink
I tell the strawberry lady her hands are so pretty
Iâ€™d like to paint them.
But I donâ€™t paint.
Sheâ€™s a short lady, unsmiling, no doubt very tired.
She tells me without speaking,
Itâ€™s the busiest time of the year on the farm.
the fields are full of idle tractors, but
Pickers are still picking
The vines are full of strawberries.
And itâ€™s hot.
In the little hut where she pours up my quarts
Several folks, either working
Or just sitting around on stools,
Smile when I tell her
That the color of her hands are pretty enough to paint.
The lady with the pretty pink hands
Smiles back at me.