Poetry Friday – The Collected Works of Susan Ramsey
This one will probably be best appreciated by the knitters amongst you.
Mariah Educates the Sensitive
In the first place,
you are not allergic to wool.
That lie is the bastard brat
of ignorance, overheating and vanity.
You may be allergic to cats,
dust, mold, pollen, the stings of bees,
bad dreams, the semen
of Rh negative men,
or, if you were an axe murderer
in a former existence,
strawberries. You could be reacting
to chemical dyes, the sulfuric acid
they soak wool in to carbonize the hay,
sheep dip so deeply lethal
it kills on contact, bad vibes
from an old cryptorchid ram, hysteria
or bad karma. But not wool.
Has it ever crossed your mind
that there are breeds,
that each breed extrudes
a different wool? You buy
a crappy, scratchy,
sweater because you like
the pretty color,
then brag that you’re too sensitive
to wear wool. What do you know
of Merino, Spanish wool so fine
it makes a grandmother’s love
seem cold and harsh?
Men were beheaded
for smuggling these sheep.
You could spend a life
exploring the differences
between Icelandic and Churro,
Black Welsh Mountain,
Finn, Romney, Jacob, Corriedale,
Karakul, Cheviot, Shetland, Lincoln, Leister–
both Border and Blue Faced–
Coopworth, Cormo, Targhee, Wenslydale,
Cotswold, God forbid,
Dorset, Tunis, Polworth, Rambouillet.
Then you could start on rare breeds.
Don’t get me started.
Wool is the perfect fiber,
the only one
which insulates when wet.
Wet cotton, silk,
are out to save themselves, leaching
your body heat away.
Like us, wool breathes.
Unlike us, it’s blessed with memory,
returns to its original shape when washed.
Wool is proof of a benign, personal God,
is grace, divine intervention at its best.
It’s why sheep are mentioned in the Bible
more than any other animal.
I made that up,
but you believed me, proving
you’ve had your own suspicions
When mercury freezes,
hang your quilts on the wall.
Curl under wool.
Wool knows you’re a mammal.
It’s sympathetic, doesn’t just conserve
body heat–it radiates it,
melting your bunched muscles
into something capable of sleep,
making sure your dreams
fill with green fields.
Yes, the author of this piece (my mother) knits. And yes, she blogs about it sometimes.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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