Ode To An American Quilt

Take your red string and pull down the sky.

A drop of blood in the shape of a rooster 

crowing twice is all I see,

patches of memory not my own but

some other woman’s.

Little brown toes dip into 

mud mounds and grass and it

still feels like home. 

The rooster crows a third time.

These dark eyes which can’t see 

further than the thick rotting fence can see 

far-off constellations of nesting birds

and all the things 

our mothers taught us.

She took her red string and pulled me 

down, down

past the checkered cloth 

and the dinner table

where she sat to love and eat and 

love again 


where she sat to unwind spools 

of scarlet thread. 

And wagon wheels and flowers and heaven and sex 

and man and woman and angels and blood 

and chicken eggs — 

all spinning circles laid over

spinning circles!

One century apart, 

she and I lay our backs 

across the heat of religion,

across the warmth 

of a full belly,

across all the things 

our mothers taught us.