Crewel

My mother sewed air raids,

yellow zig zags, blue rumbles,

people running, red.

No language, but stitches

pulled in

and pulled out,

needle a tongue.

 

At thirty, she left England,

where she had hidden

in underground shelters

from fatal thunder--

hunger, the constant--

sailed home to Cape Town,

guavas, avocados, and quiet.

 

In that quiet a bus roared.

She shot under a table, crouched,

her left eye trembling.

That eye signaled trouble when

I was late coming home,

like the silence of a Doodlebug

before it exploded.

 

In her mind, she was shaking,

always in that air raid shelter.

I couldn’t get her out.

Published in Passager