Ode to my Mother at the Singer Sewing Machine

This is where I learned the words
treadle and bobble, winder and spool;
that feed dog is the name of the teeth
below the needle plate. To this day,
I flinch a little at the menacing
sound of hook and eye, but remember 
how expertly she attached each pair 
to the two ends of a collar or  
a waistband's edge. The young 
and beautiful daughters of our town 
came to our gate with their glossy 
fashion magazines; they pointed out 
skirts and suits and wedding gowns 
that she could sew for half the price 
of a ready-to-wear. I never wore jeans 
until nearly in college; never wore 
an Oxford shirt that wasn't bespoke. 
Her hands no longer fly over a panel 
of fabric or sketch quick lines on pattern 
paper across the back of a French curve. 
Someone has spirited her Singer 
out of her house, maybe sold it 
at some quick price not equal to
its value. When my fingernail traces
a poorly made seam from a factory-made
piece of clothing, I think of her bent
over a zipper; or feeding rayon or silk
under the needle. Out of whole cloth,
a parsing of parts. Then their joining into
a shape meant to perfectly envelope your own.   
  

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