We were taught to touch
patches of fabric with fondness
and reserve, to fear how soft
or how rough it could be.
When mother had her sewing needle
in hand, I thought she would sew up
my mouth, my skin,
make a place for me to survive.
When mother had her scissors
in hand, I thought she could cut
through glass so that we could
go outside, play in the street,
laugh at the other kids
in their faces.
Pins and needles grazed the carpet.
I never found them in my bare feet
but they would find a way
to my hands and prick me there.
The sewing machine was always
the loudest child in the house.
Grumbling to be fed the fabric
and thread, my mother's foot
pumping like it would save a life.
Sarah Lilius is a stay-at-home mother and poet living in Arlington, VA. She is also an assistant editor for ELJ Publications. Some of her poems can be found at BlazeVOX, Bluestem, Denver Quarterly, and Crack the Spine. Her chapbook, What Becomes Within, is forthcoming this year.