Embroidery Lessons
by Margarita Engle

The first time my grandmother
crossed the sea
between our lives and her island
she was just here in los Estados Unidos
for a visit
not yet a refugee
still undecided.

I was six years old.
She was six plus fifty.
The things she loved were enormous:
skyscrapers, freeways, the Golden Gate Bridge.
The things I loved were tiny:
sewing pins, buttons, the knots at the ends
of colorful threads
in a cross-stitch pattern of flowers in a basket
on the cloth of a sand-filled pincushion
she taught me how to stuff
and embroider
so that I could push the orderly
pins and needles
into their tidy new home
holding two nations in place
the future of our family layered
like two bumpy scraps
of textured raw silk.

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