by Katheryn Stripling Byer

Everywhere I looked
I saw lace. Out the window
the lace of dead branches,
lace of an unraveling cloud,
every edge yearning
toward its disappearance

while inside
she sat hooking circles
of white thread
as if she remembered
how each stitch repeats
to make patterns
she no longer
knew how to finish.

No silver hooks now
for her. Or for me.
No old lady’s mincing white
chain-stitches clinging like cobwebs
to every frayed surface.

I am done with this longing
for lace as a way of ending
things gracefully,
crochet and half-turn,

the teasing of filaments into
a border to prettify thresholds
too suddenly come upon.

This needs a touch of lace,
she’d say to nobody,
fingering the emptiness

while I squirmed at her side,
thinking, Let the end
come, no matter how
ragged the finish.

     Gathering Light
     Louisiana State University Press, 2002

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