Thursday, April 16, 2015

Poem #15 for Poetry Month-Free Verse

This, of course, is as true a story as I could make it. If I was still teaching creative writing, I would encourage students to find an object in a thrift store and to imagine its former lives, much like the lovely film, The Red Violin. It's been used as a device, consciously or otherwise, for other novels and films but that's because it is an effective way to create sufficient emotional distance to spur the imagination.
This poem was first published in the Spring 2012 edition of The Elephant Mountain Review: Kootenay Voices. 
The "imp" pot, which I planted with mizuna greens, was created by New Denver potter and sculptor (and painter, cookbook author, singer and amazing all-round bundle of energy and creativity), Donna Jean (DJ) Wright!

Sewing Machine

I consider his ad for the Singer
Age?  About five, he’d said
Pushing twenty, I know
Cabinet style, heavy old thing, solid
So I fork out seventy-five bucks.

The sad thin man allowed
She was a stripper
Made her own costumes
Stayed in his trailer
When she worked this town.

I didn’t ask if she’d left the life
Or just left him, in any case
She left this sewing machine behind.

For twenty years it begrudged me
Mending jeans, making curtains
Pedestrian tasks with denim, cotton, fleece.
but sometimes I heard a breathy voice
“Sequins, more sequins!”
I always had trouble threading the beast
Issues with tension, knots, clumps
Thread looping back on itself
Snapping, the whole thing grinding to a halt, stuck.

Such is life with yet another move to make
& did I mention it was heavy as sin?

I sold it for twenty-five dollars
To a sweet-faced Gitxsan lady
Who always used a Singer
As did her mother before her.
She gave it a pat, sat down for a test drive
& it purred, the happy black & silver beast.

The last time I saw that sewing machine
It was en route to the Gitxsan elder’s apartment
perched in the backseat of a red convertible
driven by her good neighbour, a well-muscled barmaid.

 Now I use a portable lightweight
Swiss unit, sleek & white, methodical
Hums for me like a faraway marching band
No personality to speak of, yet.

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