My Mama had the gift of hand sewing—one perfect stitch
after another perfect stitch, eyeballing the precise length 

of thread needed to repair what had ripped a gaping 
hole, unmaking the whole swath of cotton-polyester fabric

she draped across her delicate boney shoulders before 
a night out with my father—painting the town red 

she said of those early dates when he handed her his fat 
quarters hoping they would be enough to make something 

beautiful like the outfits she sewed: plaid culottes with matching 
vests, paisley dresses, fringed halters—she tells me this while 

I watch the needle bully a ruby rivulet from her thumb, sullying 
the myth of cotton without the blood, when she tries to mend 

my middle-school uniform skirt, a navy pleat I never noticed 
had been stretched into splitting—

L. RenĂ©e is a poet and nonfiction writer from Columbus, Ohio. Her work has been published in Tin House OnlineObsidianPoet LoreAppalachian ReviewRattle and elsewhere. lreneepoems.com