Monday, August 19, 2013

Tuesday Poem - Cut Your Cloth by Jennifer Compton

Cut Your Cloth

Take up the scissors, the fingers of your right hand know
where to find them, how to work them. Like that! And that!
Cut the air in two. Crunch the blades with your expertise.
Like a little song of emptiness, find the snip snip that makes
a snarl. Now what was it you were about to do, my friend?

The cloth is streaming off the loom with a shudder and thud
and I know the way the women stand back, I have seen them,
watching, deftly, their big soft hands unflexed on their bellies.
They shift from foot to foot on the long shift, and hum under
the roaring thunder of machines making material and stuff.

I have seen a brisk woman seize a bolt of cloth in a shop
and hurl it on the counter so it unfurls like an omen exact
to the lip, put out one sharp hand to stop the flutter and
measure with both arms what you might want. A yard.
Or more. Sometimes she rips it for you and it screams.

Sometimes she cuts it with a slick kerplunk, kerplunk.
I have seen a woman, dreamy and dismayed by plenty,
listen to the crackle of the taffeta, the purr of velveteen,
hat awry, unable to begin, picking at a cuticle inchoately
as if her hands, and her scissors, are useless things.

I am in a rush to get things sorted out before I head off to the Queensland Poetry Festival, so this Tuesday I am taking the easy way out and posting an older poem of mine that was in Barefoot - (Picaro Press 2010.) 



  1. Very visual and full of sound. Terrific!

  2. Hoping to hear you read at The Front in Canberra, Jennifer. Do you do requests?

  3. Really enjoyed this -- have a great time at the festival!