In the kitchen, my daughter is speaking French;
dough rises in yeasty bubbles;
somewhere a TV burbles.
I have yards of blue cloth stretched
across my knees; a patch of sailor’s sky
on a cold, grey day. My fingers are searching
for holes; moth-damage, cigarette burns, tears;
a slashed hem from a sharp heel.
The women in this house mend invisibly.
We steam the damaged fabric flat;
unpick pockets, unbind a seam;
fray edges with a fingernail,
tease loose the hidden strands of silk.
I thread my needles, dart them like a shoal
of silver fish, weaving warp and weft;
tacking, slipping, backing, stitching.
Soon the wounds are closed; bare ripples
in blue sea. I press the dress, fold its arms
across the bodice in a starched caress,
gather up the skirts in sheets
of tissue, brown paper, string.
When the man knocks, my daughter is waiting.
The parcel swings lazily from her fingers.
'Ma mère dit, "Prennez mieux soin de vos vêtements." '
She giggles, tries to curtsy, closes the door loudly.