Every evening my mother pulled her knitting
out of the basket behind her chair.
After the dishes were washed, leftovers shelved,
she sat with her metal needles
counting stitches, colored markers, pattern rows
as if ticking off time.
Like the Fates, she measured and spun.
My life could be counted by stripes
of mittens, hats, sweaters, blankets
created in her post-prandial meditations.
When she cut her final thread,
put away her last skein of wool
I felt as if my life too had ended.
Until I lifted her needles
took up the frayed yarn
and saw her hands reflected back
as I looked out the dark window.
There we stood, dressed like Egyptians
or what we thought Egyptians should look like
from so many National Geographic magazine
pictures we used as examples,
wrapped in old curtains, jewels, tulle,
prancing around like we built the pyramids
while life in our
rolled by on its way to
men went to work at the refinery
spewing invisible gas and smoke in the breeze
women ironed shirts and watched television
but we didn’t notice the quiet turning
because we were too busy inventing pictograms
enslaving younger brothers in our game
of carving scarabs and conquering the desert,
ancient worlds so enticing because
the glossy pictures were so clean,
unlike the peeling paint from too much sulfur
the houses abandoned when factories closed
there being no room for Egyptian princes
or slaves or kings in this Republican county
known for its prized cattle, corn and soybeans.