Wednesday, April 28, 2010
A Favorite Poem for Thursday
In and out, behind, across
The formal gesture binds the cloth.
The sitchery's a surgeon's rhyme,
a Chinese stamp, a pantomine
of print. Then spoor. Then trail of red.
Scabs rise, stigmata from the thread.
A cotton chronicle congealed.
A historgram of welts and weals.
The woman plies her ancient part.
Her needle sutures as it darts,
scoring, scripting, scarring, stitching
the invisible mending of the heart.
Ingrid de Kok
I discovered the poems of Ingrid de Kok when I was planning a Fulbright to South Africa in 1996. Ingrid's work and her friendship became the core of my work in South Africa. This poem, "Mending," is perhaps my favorite. The echoes of Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" seem present here as well as the blending of a personal history with a national fabric that had been torn. More than anything else, it is the music of the piece I love, the "feminine" rhymes of "across" and "cloth." And the final line -- assaults me every time. Ingrid's work is now available in the United States in a collection entitled, Seasonal Fires.