Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 6
Fall 2012

Quilt + Curtains = Authenticity

by Bonnie Auslander

I need to fix these moments on a skewer:

1. Lace at window catching spark of salvia beyond the porch.
2. Flickering curtains making music without sound.
3. Old dog snoring like the warning sound on a truck backing up.

A shish-kebob of instants,
a popcorn garland of candids.
Take this patchwork quilt under my side,

bought in a junk shop in Landrum, South Carolina,
each square plucked from tea-towel, Sunday best,
play-clothes, and pillowcase, then laid down.

I myself am wearing a skirt
made from blue curtains that hung
in our apartment till it was time to leave Dhaka.

Authentic moments, I’m telling you!
A long way from those fabric squares
from craft stores, mass-produced then cut

to be reassembled for the suburban quilter.
Or weirder still, solid fabric printed
to look like patchwork.

Does anyone cut that up? Under my thumb
I sniff the stitches from 1953 giving way.
And where is my sewing box, anyway?

The thimble my grandmother brought from Radautz
missing for thirty years...
Whom should I ask to lick this thread?

The me who rules on the genuine or the me who dozes?
Get out the plastic thimble from the big-box craft store.
Lay the big knot down the wrong side up, let it hover

above the cloth horizon, just like
my dog’s ears suddenly jangled awake,
reversible pop-ups of cartilage and fur.


SHJ Issue 6
Fall 2012

Bonnie Auslander

is a native of Washington, D.C., who has published poems in Gargoyle, Prick of the Spindle, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, FIELD, and elsewhere. Her radio commentaries have aired on public radio's Living On Earth, Interfaith Voices, and Washington DC’s Metro Connection; she’s been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Millay Colony, and elsewhere. She’s writing a memoir about completely unplugging her two kids, then aged 8 and 5, from the TV, DVD player, and computer.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury