The wrought iron treadle
rocked back and forth
her stocking creeping down,
rested on the top
while I held Mabel by one stuffed cotton arm.
The leather cable spun ‘round and ‘round the wheel.
Mabel’s blue embroidered eyes and mine
I thought the pulley must be a monkey’s arm, and
Mabel thought so too, I knew.
We didn’t know that Grandma’s knee
made the treadle rise and fall,
the needle rise and fall on
scraps of pale blue cotton flannel that
smelled fresh off the bolt and
flew beneath the presser foot.
I thought the stitches ate the cloth.
Mabel believed it too.
Round and round Grandma’s wrinkly hands
pushed the flannel.
The chomp stopped and
with a flick of her thumb
she raised the presser foot.
Grandma tugged the flannel out and
snapped long strings of thread with her front teeth.
She snipped and clipped out tiny triangles
then turned the fabric right side out
and showed us what she’d made for Mabel,
a soft nightgown with puffy sleeves and
smocking on the shoulders.
I undressed her right there in the room
in front of the cat and everything.
Mabel didn’t care.
I knew she wanted to wear that gown for always
and never put it in the wash
and never let that light blue fade
or lose that brand new smell.
C 2015 Mary A. Schultz, All rights reserved