Stitching and Other Poems

Laurie Mazzaferro





Iíll state the obvious:

seagulls stitch a lullaby

I confess, I stole the line from a student sestina.

There is something about the possibility of sky,

a hand suturing an eye

& sin (abstract, donít bother to define) condenses inside a bell jar.


Let me start again:

I once loved a man who gathered stone.

I watched him hack drift wood,

we knelt & waited for fire.

It was fall, in the Laurel Mountains.

We rode his V-Rod.

Nothing but the smell of decay

& our creaking knees.

He packed a picnic supper --

strawberries, cheese.

Nobody had ever done anything like that for me.


We made love that evening

against a tree. It started to rain.

We found a discarded bottle

& I collected drops of mud

bits of twigs, crumbled leaves

the outer shells of locusts.


Letís be  totally honest:

When do the echoes of seagulls

ever linger in the mountains

but sometimes a stray bird swoops

& stitches a lullaby

& sound collects inside a button jar.


Each day we recover bits of ourselves

& slip them through a button hole

we stretch fabric taut                                        

& let it sway behind us.


I made the class write a sestina.

It was winter.

They hated me anyway.

It was one of those semesters when there isnít enough vodka.

(Although I gave up drinking 1 year, 2 months ago, but whoís counting?)


One student lost her husband to cancer.

Another a husband to the Iraq war.

Each morning she caught the 31C,

left her two babies with a neighbor

& sat in the circle

& wept & nobody in the room knew any of this

except me

not her classmates

who bitched about grades, the papers, the poems I made them read

not the girl

who wrote about watching her mother get raped

(I know what they say about poetry & biography)

not the girl who sat in class & recorded everything I said

as some type of evidence against my teaching

(everything you say can & will be used against you)

not even the young man who came to class drunk

his father died that semester.


Itís this simple:

The man I love is married.

I am forty-two & up until that moment

in the woods I never felt rain

or let a man peel back my sternum

with his thumbnail.

When I woke

I was covered in mud


& by the time seagulls & lighthouses

filled the worldís aquarium

& students fidgeted in their seats

 I gathered my sins

 (of which apparently there are many)

inside the button jar

& that damn studentís seagull

pecked at my eyelids

demanding I see something.


I love a man who rides a motorcycle

he is the only man I love.

The morning I read seagulls stitch a lullaby

I let him drive out of the bell jar.

This is all I have to say.








Looking out the kitchen window

Eve knows she has passed through a membrane


the moment the snake sends her an email

where he says he wants to stay inside


her forever until she begs him to stop

& she knows he is serious


the way that women know

the difference between a babyís cry


for hunger or please pick me up

& when she says, yes, darling, letís do it


the snake replies with a letter about the harvest,

his two daughters, their hair


floating in air, how their bodies arch

on horseback, how he canned apple butter


with his wife, and Eve watches his shadow

disappear, the way shadows curl under


autumn light & she studies

her shadow in the distance


she watches it hesitate


then pause & look back

to face the reflection looking out her kitchen window.








one day I will rise


at first a flutter,

then a foot caught on the edge


of your rib.  It will happen suddenly

the day you fish through garbage


& search for your childís artwork

the scribbles on construction paper she crumbled


in her fist because it wasnít good enough

& for whatever reason


you find yourself in the garage

bare-feet slapping concrete at 2 in the morning


because pincher-gripping smeared newspaper is better than sleep.

As you sift through coffee grinds, egg shell & empty beer cans


you stumble on a bit of dried leaf


or so it seems.

You sit at the kitchen table


with only the sound of a florescent bulb to calm you

& smooth out orange & brown crayon markings


suddenly you understand death

how the human hand must shed itself free from the body


thatís when you know the leaf

you found at the bottom of the trash                 


nestled between toothpaste & strands of hair

is really a decomposed hand                                        


that slipped off like a glove

to fold itself inside your palm


Among others, Laurie Mazzaferro's publication credits include Barrow Street, Poet Lore, West Branch, Pearl, 5 AM, New Delta Review, Unlikely Stories and Poems Niederngasse. She is recipient of two pushcart nominations and the winner of the 2000 Slipstream chapbook contest. Presently, she teaches creative writing, worries about her son, a talented visual artist, who attends Kent State, and rides a motor cycle. Hey, life's too short.

Photo Courtesy of Image*After.


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Poems Copyright © 2006 Laurie Mazzaferro. All rights reserved.