Academic journal article Hecate

What the Survivors Said

Academic journal article Hecate

What the Survivors Said

Article excerpt

My mother took baby knitting to Nambucca in '48,

when she and Dad went off on their honeymoon.

In Dad's family, knitting needles were something for fixing

up not-the-full-quid cousins who got themselves into trouble.

Nana said the tiny corpses were always baptised.

Mum's grandmother was a German, so that all down the line

the women in our family have knitted her way,

looping the yarn with our right hands.

Other less hybrid women boggle at our inherited strangeness.

Mum's mother was a midwife and a crocheter.

Even when she was old and nearly blind and tossing

her disposable nappies into vacant lots,

she could turn out a d'oily from fingertip memory.

When my own second baby was slow in getting born

the doctor ripped the caul with a crochet hook,

and you can't help seeing the irony in that.

I remember being little, sitting at my mother's knobbled feet

while she knitted. There was I, with empty needles,

clicking them together to my mother's beat until Dad turned,

mad-eyed, and accused us of trying to drive him insane,

which was exactly what he said about violin music, and about

my sister when she sang Soft As The Voice Of An Angel.

It's a funny thing that, unlike staring blankly at a wall,

or reading a Canadian novel or practising Spanish verbs,

you can knit in front of a man and he won't be able to guess

that your mind is on anything other than him. …

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