From the scrap barrel at work I pilfered scraps—
rags, ends of bolts. Grandmomma jerked
thread through the cloth so hard the batting bulged.
We fought for those crude quilts, me and my brothers.
She yanked the stitches till they puckered, and slowly
the stolen scraps yielded a Drunkard’s Path.

Grandmomma’s ten years dead and her bad work
still keeps me hot at night, in Northern weather,
which she despised, just as she hated you
if you were Northern, rich, black, smart, or atheist.
I loved her because, like God, she loved me first,
ferociously. A love so close to hate
it’s taken decades just to say there is a difference.

I sat between her knees, head tilted back.
She thumbed the crusty threads. “There ain’t no call
paying some doctor to do this.” She snipped
the threads lacing my forehead, popped them out.
But first she studied them and said, “It’s sloppy—
those big loose stitches. I’d sew you tighter.” She grinned,
and with a lipless peck she kissed the stitches.

:: Andrew Hudgins, The Glass Hammer (Knopf, 1994)

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