The Seamstress
by Terri Muuss


A fabric made of moths,
my grandmother replenishes
the blouse and petticoats,
sweating under the heat of July.

Everywhere white sheets cling
to banisters. Amidst tins of talc,
boxes of bobby pins, and long red
threads dangling from ornate boxes, she tells

stories about her father: immigrant
from Germany, left his family,
everything,
pursued the dream. “Taught me

to weld and solder. To be more than just
a girl.” Beads of sweat line her faint
mustache. I am lulled by the rhythmic
wheeze of three packs

a day, for over 40 years, the burning
air surrounding her.
I count the multicolored
heads of pins leaping from

the fabric tomato pin cushion as
I nibble her fresh Queen Anne’s lace
cookie, powdered sugar falling
on the wooden floor in a reverse

cameo. My heritage here
in the crook of her elbow, in the protrusion
of her gums as she works. My grandmother
hems the crepe and chiffon, her fingers buzzing

with the work of women.






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