Mama’s Sewing Machine

My grandmother Bertie never drove a car.
She drove the pedal of a l935 Singer sewing machine,
Saved with patches
Mended the tears
Hemmed the edges
Created quilts and aprons
Pot holders and pillowcases.

She made flyswatters; everybody had one or three.
She neatly stitched a biased strip of fabric
from a worn-out skirt
around the pointy edges of a
rectangle of screen wire.

By hand, she stitched to the screen
a wire handle PaPa bent
from a broken clothes hanger kept
on a nail in the barn for such a time.

I remember several flyswatters,
each with holes worn through the screen
from slapping flies against the walls,
the door facings,
the sink or
the floor,
occasionally used to slap the backside of a wayward child.

Daddy hated a fly in the house.
He’d rather see a snake.
With no air-conditioning and no screens on summer windows
We needed a lot of Mama’s flyswatters.
Oh, and there were seven children.

Nobody drives her Singer these days.
It’s parked against a wall in one of EO’s houses.
Nobody makes it hum as the curves are turned.

Ptc

 

9 comments

  1. Jtc,

    I love this. Of course it takes me back to my childhood.
    When I read your shared writing, I feel as if we have shared childhoods.

    You took a unique approach…. “My grandmother Bertie never drove a car.
    She drove the pedal of a l935 Singer sewing machine,”

    Those opening lines brought a smile. My grandparents were PaPa and Granny.
    Neither of them drove of a car. Your words fit them so well. He pedaled a bike
    and she pedaled her singer.

    These lines say ‘love’ in the most perfect way.

    “Saved with patches
    Mended the tears
    Hemmed the edges
    Created quilts and aprons
    Pot holders and pillowcases.”

    and those fly swatters! Precious memories.

    “Nobody drives her Singer these days.
    It’s parked against a wall in one of EO’s houses.
    Nobody makes it hum as the curves are turned.”

    Profound! Layered and lovely.

    I love everything about this. I have a poem with a picture of a Singer
    In a few days I will post it.

    Thank you for posting this beauty.

    sarah

    Like

    • I look forward to your Singer photo and poem. I find myself editing this poem each time I read it. There are a few other lines forming in my head but they will stay in the margins for now. Thank you again.
      ptc

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Ptc.

    I love how you infer this act of sewing as an act of driving somewhere, heading on a journey of repair and inventive thinking. The opening stanza is just wonderful

    She drove the pedal of a l935 Singer sewing machine,
    Saved with patches
    Mended the tears
    Hemmed the edges

    it engages the reader and holds my attention from start to finish. “patches, tears, and edges” can also say so much about the fabric of life, family and a relationship as well as the actual material. Love the ability of openness in the word choice to ruminate on that.

    The Whole thing is a wonderful glimpse into past life and times as well as the fond memory of a cherished grandmother. My maternal grandmother had an old singer sewing machine, too, and could do wonders with it. This brings me back there as well. Lovely to recall those personal memories! Thank you!

    My Best
    Wendy

    Like

    • Wendy, hearing that the poem caused you to remember makes me want to write more. Sometimes I think we don’t publish more because we believe our experiences to be isolated to ourselves. Knowing someone can connect opens more memories to more poems. Your words are encouraging,
      ptc

      Like

  3. Ptc,
    Last evening I enjoyed reading how Grandmother Bertie drove her Singer sewing machine; this evening I revisit this with pleasure. I can imagine the scene–how she would push that pedal and move wisps of free-floating strands of hair escaping her bun as she worked on sewing projects. What a grand creation this poem is!
    Jan

    Like

    • I am glad you visited and even happier to hear you like the poem. I found that photograph recently. I really wanted that sewing machine. ptc

      Like

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