I grab my knitting bag and sit in a chair next to Mom.
She’s dying, the doctor had said. So who isn’t, she had said in reply.
I take the needles and the scarf out of the bag, the scarf still a fragment,
both connected to the yarn like an umbilical cord.
I resume where I had left off.
You’re always knitting, Mom says. Who’s that one for?
I shrug and say I haven’t decided.
But I don’t look up so I don’t lose my place.
Because when I lose my place, I make mistakes.
Then I have to rip and I swear, my scarf gets even shorter
Than when I started. Like I’m unknitting more than I’m knitting.
And I'm already a slow knitter to begin with.
I’ve seen a scarf being knitted so fast,
it looked like it was coming out of a printer.
But me, I don’t want to knit faster than I can think.
Besides, I have more scarves than I know what to do with.
I’ve gifted some but kept most. People say good job.
But they just see the scarves, not the poems woven in the stitches.
They said he was alive, she says. All those years.
And they tell me now?
I rest my needles on my lap. I am silent as yarn,
looking in her direction where she sits on the sofa, lengthwise,
facing her garden with a grotto of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Your grandfather, she said.
She feels her head with her hand as if to make sure
Her beanie is on right. She wears beanies.
She doesn’t like the way her hair had thinned.
Her eighty years are showing in grey.
Her hair is stern and isn’t to be told what to do.
By now, he’s really dead.
Or he’d be past a hundred.
All these years she prayed for the repose of his soul.
And had taken pride in being told she looked like him.
I don’t know if she’s more angry for being duped.
Or of being ripped so far back, feeling undone.
But you can’t tell the dead to correct their mistakes
Nor the dying to move on.
So I went back to my stitching.
Ripping, soon after, upon finding a mistake.
Ripping to a good stitch from which to resume
until my scarf was no longer than a stanza.
I figured I might as well start over.
So I ripped all the way down to a loop.