Sewn In

My Nana sewed and knitted at nights and weekends.
She let out the waists of neighbours
and took in the hems of family -
the clacking motor of her Singer sewing machine
whirring into the night.

By day she’d weft and warp the floor
of the haberdashery department of Fenwicks,
where she sold the tools of a trade her fingers were born for
but a marriage to a proud, unchangeable man denied her.

The city’s sewers, stitchers and knitters
took their tools from her hands -
to stitch up the tears she didn’t.
To patch up the holes she couldn’t.
Newcastle, it seemed, needed a lot of mending.

For ten years she stitched up my tears
and patched up my holes.
I’d steal her elastic to make crossbows.
I’d borrow her hedgehog pin cushion
to put in my sister’s bed.
She’d exact her revenge by knitting me Arran jumpers,
by making me thread her needles,
by forcing me to feed material through her machine -
her clacking motor never ceasing, always whirring.
Until the whirring stopped.

The machine was put in a box and placed out of sight.
Hems and waistbands stayed unaltered,
tears unsewed, patches unstitched.

But I can thread a needle
and my holes and tears do not stay unpatched.
The skin I wear does not stay unaltered.
My clothes can change to fit wherever I go.
I am not bound to where I started,
to where anyone wishes me to stay.

But a place can thread a needle
and places can sew and weave.
And wherever I go, I know when I return
I can be part of the fabric that mends.

Scott Tyrrell

Yanking

Apparently
up and down
didn’t mean
like a lever
like a door handle
like a joystick
like a casino slot machine

It meant
up and down
fingers curved around
from shaft to tip

We only knew this
after she had tried
the alternative
yanking motion

and almost snapped
his dick

we stroked her back
comforting
as teenage tears burst

we stroked her back
in hidden prayer
- thank fuck she’d done it first 

Hollie McNish

 

Self-Help

When the self-help books had offered up all their wisdom
and still my life was no different, I decided to take drastic action.

The woman working the reception of the gym told me
This is where men are made, and then continued

to charge my credit card. I lifted the weight
of my unhappiness above my head over and over again

hoping some of it would seep out in my sweat;
but instead my bi-ceps tore themselves apart, shredded

like pulled pork, and I left more broken than when I went in.
Next were the surgeons who I thought could nip

and tuck my problems, but they said there was nothing
they could do for me, I was too far gone and life transplants

had still not passed the rigorous medical trials.
I settled then, on a small framer’s, who measured my worth

in inches, and I found I had much more to give
than I thought. They said I needed to look at myself

objectively, and then hung me on the wall opposite a mirror.
They used their Morso Guillotine to cut whopping big chunks

out of my life: triangles of bad memories, sadness’s,
littering their floor as dust clouded at my feet. 

They glued the best of me back together, underpinned
the corners of my new life. Finally, they framed my face

something wonderful so people might look at it when they pass by
and consider it interesting, beautiful even.

James Giddings