When I meet the man I love,
I shall say to him, "Lover, I leave thee
hence for a fortnight and hie me away to the
mountains by the sea." And I shall go from
him and drive north for hours. The road will
wend through forests that smell of rainy winters
and give way to wet mountains that glisten from
the light reflected off the sea. North and north
I shall go, through cities that glow at night
like sunlight through dew-drenched cobwebs on
the shore. Go and go I shall until, in the evening
of the next day, I pull into a long, dirt drive
where a rambling farmhouse lies at the foot
of the mountains.
There I shall embrace the
sister of my mother, press my face to her plump
shoulder and smell the rain and dirt in her graying
hair. Together, we shall sit by the hearth and
laugh at old times until the evening fades. As
the moon rises in the east, I shall tell her that
I have met the man I love, and she will smile
a secret smile and say to me, "Tomorrow we
shall shear the sheep."
In the light of dawn rising over the mountain,
I shall follow my mother’s sister across
the yard into the fenced enclosure. We shall
walk amongst the gentle bleating of the sheep
until she finds a small, gray ram lying in the
straw; its horns spiraled close about its head.
I shall hold him as my mother’s sister
shears the ram, its coat falling away in pieces
under the buzzing of the electric razor. Together,
we shall collect its fleece and on the kitchen
table separate out the pieces, bellies, crutchings,
and locks until there is only greasy fleece
under our fingertips. My mother’s sister
shall comb the locks and I shall wash them in
boiling, soapy water until the liquid rinses
clear. We shall lay the wool to dry on racks
and bake scones in the afternoon as if I were
a girl again and she my caretaker. My mother’s
sister shall ask me of you, and I shall tell
her of your brown eyes and freckled grin and
strong hands. When the wool dries, my mother’s
sister shall tease the yarn and I shall card
the wool into fluffy balls of roving. We will
leave these by the banked fire and drive west
to the sea and sit on a pier drinking clear
glasses of champagne in a small, smoky restaurant.
Through the mornings and evenings, I shall
sit at the spinning wheel with my spindle and
pump the treadle under my feet. From the balls
of roving, I shall pull and twist threads of
yarn, and my mother’s sister will wind
them into off-white skeins, stacking them carefully
into a cardboard box. When I finish, she shall
kiss me on my cheek and embrace me again, bidding
me to return like the sun rises in the morning.
She shall take the box of yarn and place it
into my car, waving to me as I leave her rambling
farmhouse at the foot of the mountains where
they meet the sea.
I shall drive south and south and south until
I leave the mountains and rainy forests and
enter into the embrace of dry, rolling hills.
I shall return in the evening of the next day
to our little house on a quiet street in a city
with red tile roofs and shady arches. You will
embrace me as I walk into our door, and you
will inhale the smell of rain and dirt in my
hair and say to me, "Lover, I am glad you
have returned." I shall smile and take
your hand in mine.
In the night, while you sleep between cool,
cotton sheets, I shall reach over and measure
the span of your bare, tan shoulders, my hands
lingering on your warm skin. I shall, when you
turn away, inspect your clothes and take the
measure of your things. And while you are at
work, I shall linger in front of my computer,
perusing pages of sweater patterns, and I shall
knit up the skeins of yarn in my cardboard box.
As I knit, I shall pluck from my head hairs
as black as ink. These I shall knit in amongst
the soft white wool - tiny coal strands, visible
only from the inside of the sweater. Everyday,
when I hear your car pull into the drive, I
shall fold my knitting into the box and put
it away. You will embrace me when you enter
the kitchen and I shall laugh.
Fall will turn to winter and your breath will
be plumes of white in the air. I shall finish
knitting the white wool into a sweater, put
it into a box, and leave it on the bed. You
will find it when you come home and wear it
that evening when you kiss me, and time shall
turn with the rising and setting of the sun.
You will one day remark that there are many
dark strands of hair knitted into the sweater,
especially around your heart. I shall tell you
a tale told me by the graying crone who taught
me to knit. I shall say to you that the hair
of she who gives the gift, so long as it stays
in the knitting, shall bind to her the heart
of the recipient.
You will be quiet for long moments and I shall
look at you curiously in the slanting light
of afternoon. Then you will embrace me and kiss
my temple, and you will say, "Lover, you
are my Crane Wife, and I promise I shall never
look upon your spinning."
The heavens will weep as the rain comes down
in the winter night and together we will lie
twined beneath the rising moon.