In her bedroom
my mother sewed jumpers
encircled us with her yellow tape
mended our pants.
We grew up amid doll quilts,
Tammy clothes that matched our own,
ric-rac trim and searches
for her thimble.
Snips of thread ran through our rugs
like lost veins.
While her machine gathered our sleeves into cuffs
traced our middles to make a dress
of a bodice and a skirt,
I lolled on her high bed with the cherry posts,
keeping her company
as the venetian blinds striped the wall,
the stale smells of passion safe
beneath the white chenille spread.
She never told us she loved us
not straight out.
I grew up thinking those were words
for when the bedspread lay folded back—
love for children was assumed
like the cup of water I boiled for my father
as soon as I got up.
How could she know we’d search our childhoods
for a single phrase?
I think about her
when I draw the covers about my son,
practice telling him I love him
while he is too small to know
I am still trying out the phrase
tugging its seams
searching its pockets.
--- MJ Abell