Handling fabrics I feel a sense of respect.
My fingers grow wise skillful aware.
Of the things I like touching, cloth is first.
That was true since when I was a kid.
Linen felt alive like hair or skin does.
Once smoothing under my palms
a thin piece of cotton
I heard my voice say mother
I’m sorry… In my mind I saw
those red curtains of flesh
that I ripped head-first. Long ago.
I felt pain that wasn’t my own
pulls and cracks of frail stems.
I cried: desolate, mother if I tear you apart
with this clumsy passage of mine
if I rip this vellum of cells
this carpet finely wrought.
I swear I’ll recompose you
stitch by stitch whatever it takes.
I will fix you entirely, I promise.
A bit every day with fine needles
with the care of my hands
with the sharpness of my wide open eyes.
Toti O’Brien’s work has appeared in Literary Mama, Adanna, The Harpoon Review and Litro NY among other journals. She has contributed for a decade to various Italian magazines.