Thursday, January 10, 2019

Hands I do not know

As far as we could tell, the face of the revolution was a sea of embroidering women, patiently waiting the resignation of their repressive governor.
~Diana Denham

One more quote!
She was passionate about knitting because it allowed her to reach a state of peacefulness, and she loved to embroider because it let her express her creativity. Both activities were liberating. They allowed her to exist outside of time.
~Laura Esquivel

I posted embroidery yesterday for Art Thursday, and I'm following up with this poem for Poetry Friday. Sadly, Hazel Hall, who had scarlet fever as a child and needed a wheelchair thereafter, only lived to age 38.

by Hazel Hall (1886-1924)

MY hands that guide a needle
    In their turn are led
Relentlessly and deftly,
    As a needle leads a thread.

Other hands are teaching
    My needle; when I sew
I feel the cool, thin fingers
    Of hands I do not know.

They urge my needle onward,
    They smooth my seams, until
The worry of my stitches
    Smothers in their skill.

All the tired women,
    Who sewed their lives away,
Speak in my deft fingers
    As I sew today.


Kathryn Apel has the Poetry Friday round-up today. Thanks, Kat!


Linda B said...

My mother used to tell me that when I stirred the soup or the batter that it was a long line of women I was stirring for, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and on. She never said it was for her, too, but it was. What a wonderful poem, Tabatha, "they urge my needle onward". Thank you!

Carol Varsalona said...

The creativity of those who came before us is remarkable. I cherish the works of creative individuals, especially the women I have known. Thanks for sharing this wonderful poem, Tabatha.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

I've been thinking about the tools & techniques we learn & pass on. This poem is a lovely expression of carrying on a tradition.

Michelle Kogan said...

That's a wonderful closing stanza, she takes us all with her. I like how the role of the needle and her hands flip back and forth. The embroidery below is gorgeous, especially the animal filled piece toward the bottom, thanks Tabatha!

KatApel - said...

How very beautiful. Not just the hands that guided her in touch, but also those unseen that devised the patterns and placed the stitches through the years.

jan godown annino said...

Tabatha, I feel so deeply for Hazel. How much she accomplished - I appreciate your bringing her to me here with this poem & the comment on her situation. Sewing & embroidery are high on my mind, as I sit wrapped in a new hand-knitted shawl of jewel tones from the hands of author Regina Lewis. And often I am out & about with a new hand-knitted long & frisky curly scarf from the hands of attorney Patsy Palmer. These two women embody the thoughts you've expressed here so eloquently. I am warmed by your sewing post & how it reflect the world in which I accidentally dwell. Happy Poetry Friday & Happy New Year!

Ruth said...

I'm not much of a handicraft person, but I remember when I would be up at night with my babies, I would think about "all the tired women" and feel uplifted in solidarity!

Carol said...

Both of my grandmothers did needlework- sewing, knitting, embroidery. I still have several of their pieces hanging in my house, and one that I did as a middle schooler, because I was inspired by them. Recently, I have been thinking I would like to take up this hobby again. Your poem makes me miss them…

Irene Latham said...

May we all have activities that allow us to exist outside of time... Thank you, Tabatha! xo

Linda Mitchell said...

The women in my family pass on earlier than the men. This poem makes me long for them. I think that's partly why I am a poet. Thank you for this lovely, lovely link to the women who came before on whose shoulders I stand.

Mary Lee said...

I own and use embroidered and hand-worked pillowcases made by family hands I've never known. I often think of these women and wonder about their lives.

Joyce Ray said...

Tabatha, thank you for lifting up Hazel. Like Linda, I think of the women on whose shoulders I stand. A painting by Louise Nevelson, "The Woman," spoke that very thought to me, and I wrote a poem about it. The embroidery shown in the earlier post is fabulous!

Robyn Hood Black said...

I come from a line of sewing women... thank you for this beautiful post, Tabatha, and the mouth-watering embroidery in the one before. XO

Heidi Mordhorst said...

This makes me think of the tools and techniques that are NOT being passed on. It is a rare 2nd grader I come across who even knows what a needle and thread look like; a few more, curiously, know about knitting. The fabric of our lives is stitched together in layers, patches, long scarves of history, textured pillowcases full of past and pull. We are letting it go.
Thanks, Tabatha.

Molly Hogan said...

Thanks for sharing Hazel Hall,s poem, Tabatha. Over the holidays I thought a lot about generations of guiding hands in the kitchen. I can see how that translates to handwork as well. Those embroideries you shared are stunning!