Joan Colby



I hold my hands apart
While she winds the yarn
Upon the living spindle of a child
And talks of heaven where recently
Nana moved to join the saints and angels.

Even then, I don’t believe,
Although I try to summon Jesus,
Imagining a child like me,
But he’s elusive, nothing but a picture
In a prayerbook wearing a halo.
The larger story is Mary
Busy with her womanly tasks.

The yarn is cast off on ivory needles
That clack like chickens: knit and purl.
The earthly patterns. Snowflakes
On mittens, cables on sweaters.
Her hands proficient with instructions
That she knows by heart the way she knows
Her missal.

How circumference forms a shape
Where every layer conceals another
Until unwound the yarn dangles
Like litanies imploring indulgence
Of a center that holds nothing.



An ache in his side,
Something missing. He turned
And there she was, soft and lovely,
Yet the dull pain
He could no longer ignore.
Her chatter. The sweet tangy fruit
She offered. Beyond the gates,
A world of possibility.
He couldn’t live with her or without her.
Adages and excuses. Fear. Her hand
Leading him forth. Curve of her
Breast like a sidewinder
Marking a trail in the dust.
He hated how it wasn’t enough
To be alone in paradise
Before the touching and the talking.