‘Bias Binding’ by Karen Mooney
I helped her pin on the pattern,
marking it out with chalk before
making the cuts, binding the edges
then stitching it all together
on a pedal-driven sewing machine.
Mum made some of her own clothes;
lined skirts in robust heritage fabrics,
out of place in the shiny polyester city
she had not fully embraced.
Nothing was wasted in those days
so remnants became pinafores for me.
I boasted a teal blue one with a polo neck
matching the check, an embarrassed red,
like me, when it drew classmates' attention.
My pride in matching my mother unravelled
as I pleaded for modern garments in man-made
fibres that uniformed the masses, soaking up
the perspiration of their individuality;
the price of fitting in.
I grew up in the city but leaned into the hills
and mountains of my parents' upbringing.
Their traditions and culture, the warp and weft
of my material would fray and bobble
with the friction of a city that didn't quite fit.
Rural customs jarred with our surroundings
as I, spread-eagled with a foot in each camp,
appreciated only much later in life
that you should wear the clothes,
they shouldn't wear you
and that our own raw edges, irrespective
of the cloth from which we're cut,
hold stronger when bound together.
A career in human resource management provided preparation for Karen’s current activities; cats and words. Sometimes they hide, reappearing unexpectedly; sometimes they scratch, sometimes they purr. Her words have appeared in online publications and Penned In, co-written with Gaynor Kane published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. Her own pamphlet Missing Pieces will be published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press on 30 March.