Category Archives: Poetry

The Dressmaker’s Legacy: A Poem

IMG_0153The Dressmaker’s Legacy

Grandma Mamie’s hands were always busy
creating beauty where there was none –
from threads, potato sacks, fabric scraps and wool,
she designed, tatted, crocheted, knit and sewed.
She had magic in her hands.

She might have been a famous dress designer
in another time – with other opportunities.
She could envision a garment,
make a pattern from newspaper,
cut the fabric and sew the new creation.

When her twins were two, she made
a white cotton dress with crocheted yoke and sleeves.
her daughters kept the yokes all their lives,
as a loving reminder of their mother.

When her twins were 15, they sketched a dress
with a hem longer on one side than the other.
They said it reminded them of a shirt untucked
on one side, so they named it the “shirt-tail dress.
Grandma designed it and made two.
Classmates at Gauley Bridge High School
wanted one too, so grandma made more, and
started a local fad in West Virginia.
The shirt-tail dress, ahead of its time,
a dress with an asymmetrical hem.

Grandma believed clothes for her twins
should be ready to wear at the same time,
(no favoritism here), so she cut out sleeves for one,
then sleeves for the other, bodice for one,
then bodice for the other, and so on.
Cutting and sewing parts in tandem,
both dresses were ready to wear – at the same time.

She crocheted elegant tablecloths,
intricate feminine collars for dresses and suits,
flat doiles for the arms of her chairs;
fancy ones with starched ruffles for her tables,
and bedspreads of pleasing patterns;
tatted delicate lace for trims;
knitted afghans to cuddle under in winter,
soft booties, hats and small quilts for
new grandchildren and great grandchildren.
She used scraps of leftover material and old clothes
to design and sew beautiful quilts by hand.
She worked magic with those hands.

Grandma’s hands were always busy,
Even when she sat at rest and her sight grew dim,
there was piecework in her lap.
In her 80’s, she was happiest when family visited,
eyes bright with anticipation,
especially when children were coming.
Her wrinkled face with thick glasses greeted us in smiles.
She held both our hands and looked into our eyes when she talked.
I remember staring at her slender hands – with age spots,
blue veins and arthritic joints – tenderly holding mine
and hoping a little of her magic rubbed off on me.

Grandma’s art is in my home now,
fruits of her labor all around.
A favorite quilt pulls at memories
each time I see it, or touch it,
made of fabric swatches from clothes
my mother, sister and I wore in years past.
Sleeping under the warmth of this quilt
brings comfort from the past beyond measure.
I treasure too, my babies quilts,
the kitchen napkins with crocheted edges,
her doiles I have framed, and
the white crocheted bedspread
I drape with care each Summer
on the white bed in the guest room,
as a artist displays a valuable art piece.

Her legacy is greater than treasured items.
Grandma Mamie passed on the value of work,
and the will to create beauty in practical things
that comfort – and make a home.

Sue Marquis Bishop
Copywrite 2013

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Welcome Spring!

“It is Easter morning.
Children who are still gentle as milk,
wake to its wonder.”
Caryll Houselander, “Souer Marie Emilie”, The Flowering Tree (1945),

It’s Spring!

 “Autumn arrives in the early morning, but spring at the close of a winter day.”
Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart (1938).

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Forsythia is …pure, undiluted, untouched joy.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Bring Me a Unicorn (1971).
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Flowers and plants are silent presences; they nourish every sense except the ear”.
May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep (1968).

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Have you ever looked into the heart of a flower? …I love their delicacy, their disarming innocence and their defiance of life itself”.
Princess Grace of Monaco with G. Robyns, My Book of Flowers (1980). 

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“Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day – like writing a poem, or saying a prayer.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea (1955).

“Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment.”
Ellis Peters, The Summer of the Danes, (1991).

 

Spring is a time of reflection and hope for new beginnings (SMB).

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It’s Spring !
Welcoming sun’s warmth on bare arms;
tilting  faces up to tree branches ablaze with pink and white blooms;
bending to touch nature’s  yellow and red living lights on bushes,
gathering a bouquet of smiling faces pushed up amidst grass and rocks.
Witnessing a joyful display for the senses this Easter! (SMB).

Sue Marquis Bishop,2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing Carpets From Winter to Spring

In spring, nature is like a thrifty housewife…taking up the white carpets and putting down the green ones.” Mary B. Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings, 1896.

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ONLY A FEW SHORT WEEKS AGO,  we enjoyed a light carpeting of Southern snow as a snowstorm blanketed the North in huge drifts.  But…it only lasted two days in Charlotte, until it morphed into water and disappeared.

WHEN IT SNOWS IN THE SOUTH,  it only stops in for tea and a brief respite before melting and running away.

SIGNS OF SPRING are emerging here and there in Charlotte as February and March days turn warm, then cool, then windy.  Today, it is sunny and 80 degrees.

Dormant
buds bursting
open winter casings;

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Carolina
Jasmine’s display
beckoning us outside;

Blue
birds gathering
at the feeders:

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Pedaling
with the
wind in my face;
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Rosy
pink ground
cover kissing lawns;

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Forsythia
showing up
gray tree trunks:

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Reading
and dreaming
at Spring Park Pond.

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I’M READY FOR TOMATOES from the garden, flowers blooming in profusion, breezy days on the porch, walks in the sunshine, reading by Spring Park pond, cookouts, and yes… even Spring cleaning.

I AM GRATEFUL to be here, in this place, witnessing the emergence of Spring once again.

“Suddenly a mist of green on the trees, as quiet as thought.”
Dorothy M Richardson, Pilgrimage: The Trap, 1925.

Sue Marquis Bishop, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Spring at Davidson Lake!

Spring at Davidson Lake

Today, the woods are
full of chattering
avian architects and Romeos,
building nests,
broadcasting songs
to seduce mates, and
exchanging threats
from the tree tops
as they work
warning other
avian flyers away.
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Mossy carpets bask in
bright sunshine
soon to dim
when Summer’s
leaf canopy blooms.
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Canoes rest upended
awaiting passengers
to fill their empty shells,
paddling to hidden beaches
for romance and play.
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At the edge of the woods,
grass blooms in
darker green hues
long absent in Winter.
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Hardy dandelions surge
to gain ground
while they can
and try to stake
their claim.
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A volunteer pine
tree begins its
long climb to the sky.
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An exercise station
on the fitness trail
awaits the arrival
of local denizens
with healthy-me resolutions.
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A sunny day,
a gentle breeze,
a calm lake,
and a lone traveler
just sitting and dreaming
of yester-Springs.

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Sue Marquis Bishop 2014

Look Up! The Trees are Shouting “Spring is on the Loose!”

Look up! Look out as you walk! The Bradford Pear trees, Forsythia and Redbud trees, that herald the coming Spring with their fertile flowering, are beginning to shout.
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It’s been a long winter, especially for our friends and family in the North. This year, our mild winter mixed with unpredictable bursts of cold and snow and dreary, left us in the southern U.S, also eager for Spring. What a thrill to walk under and among cascading blooms.

It’s time to put on our walking shoes and get out our bicycles to witness first hand the magical transformation of the season of rest into the season of hope and renewal.
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Spring!
A time
of new beginnings.

Nature
is adding,
dividing and multiplying.

I’ll
make a
change this Spring.

Old grievances
left behind.
It’s a new day.

My forsythia.
Dainty yellow
blooms held aloft
on graceful arms,
longer than a
prima ballerina could.
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Beauty
doesn’t last
but the memory
of beauty savored
does.
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Time to start a list of Spring projects and personal goals.

Spring
breezes whisper
in my ear –
hope, engage, reach –
act now!

Winter Beauty: Sculptures All Around

WINTER SENTINELS

Black trees on the hill
like sentinels anchored to the land
stretch on tip-toes,
reaching Hedra-like arms and
slender fingers stripped bare
toward winter skies,
their strong trunks
holding the line – unmoving.
Do they dance out of formation
when no one is looking?

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Black trees on the hill,
hidden from view
in fog swirling
’round their feet.
Rooted in earth,
they bring me comfort,
standing bare
against storm  and stress –
sometimes for lifetimes.

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Black trees on the hill,
dressed in winter white
sprinkled with sparkling crystals,
divert my attention
from winter grays.
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Black trees on the hill
take my breath away
in winter,
seeing their naked sculptural forms
spread without embarrassment
against the Carolina blue sky.

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Black trees on the hill
stand tall in formation,
while the last ray of sun
fades from view,
never waving rudely for
the sun to hurry away.

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MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME to appreciate the beauty of trees at each season of the year. On my daily walks, I notice the trees and their relationship to the sky and land – and I always think of Mom.

THIS WIRE SCULPTURE of a winter tree is a favorite of mine that graced the hall table of my dear mother-in-law Nora’s home – and now resides in mine, sharing its beauty and memories.

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Sue Marquis Bishop 2013

The Thanksgiving Table

MEMORY
My childhood’s home I see again,
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There’s pleasure in it, too.

(by Abraham Lincoln in 1846 when he was 37)

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IN RECENT YEARS, MEMORIES OF PAST THANKSGIVINGS come to visit at Thanksgiving time, like welcome spirits, filling the house with smells, sights, sounds and stories of long ago times with family and friends around the family dining table. – When family gathers now, we share the old stories, visit familiar traditions and renew family bonds once again.

THE THANKSGIVING TABLE

MOM IN HER APRON at 6:00am –
she and turkey greet the sunrise;
women in the house don aprons after breakfast
taking directions to prepare the feast.
Young daughters and granddaughters set the table,
check the centerpiece,light the candles,
and sometimes stir a mysterious mixture –
then run off to play with siblings and cousins.

DAD CARVES THE SUCCULENT TURKEY in the kitchen,
separating meat slices – white to dark –
arranging artfully on the turkey platter.
Mom says carving the turkey is a man’s job –
and he performs the ritual with pleasure
as head of our family.

OUR THANKSGIVING table covered end to end
with food, family and friends;
Dad at the window end of the table
by the turkey proudly starring in our feast;
Mom at the other end, near the kitchen
to fetch a forgotten spoon.

THE SAME THANKSGIVING MEAL re-appears,
no trendy new dishes here to explain;
dishes of food artfully displayed
on the white tablecloth with the best Haviland
china, silver, crystal and cloth napkins.
A bowl of flowers and lighted candles
centers with food nestled around the table:
fresh green beans, mashed potatoes served in Mom’s
mixer bowl, dressing smelling of sage, corn,
a full gravy boat with tender pieces of turkey swimming,
sinfully rich sweet potatoes with the
heavenly aroma of brown sugar, butter and pralines,
cranberry sauce in the familiar glass bowl,
salads, hot rolls wrapped in a cotton bun warmer
decorated on the edges with Mom’s white crocheted lace,
and a pitcher of ice cold ice tea (sweetened of course).

WE HEAR COFFEE PERKING on the buffet beside the desserts:
cookies for the children and pumpkin and pecan pies –
butter pecan ice cream added later.
With bowed heads and hands clasped around
the table, each of us speaks of the year’s
greatest blessing – opening hearts of gratitude –
while family bonds tighten. Dad says grace and
finishes with a toast for health in the coming year.

WOMEN adjourn to the family room
for coffee and talk – while men tackle dishes
and clean-up in kitchen and dining room –
in gratitude for their traditions and sated stomachs.
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IN MY HOME, I have continued familiar traditions, and serve many foods shared over the years at the Thanksgiving tables in my parents home. I use Mom’s green bean recipe for perfect green beans, and serve turkey, mashed potatoes, lots of cranberry sauce, hot rolls, dressing and iced tea, pumpkin and pecan pies and cookies and ice cream.

I HAVE MADE A FEW CHANGES and additions over the years: reduced the calories in the sweet potato recipe, and served additional lower calorie dishes as options, for example, wild rice with cranberries; field greens salad with raspberries and toasted walnuts and goat cheese; sliced cucumbers with onions and tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, basalmic vinegar and oregano. I also serve ham for some family members who prefer it to turkey and a wine option with the iced tea. The past 20 years, I have served my mother-in-law’s holiday pineapple salad (loved by my family) and occasionally make her delicious squash casserole dish – thus incorporating traditions and memories from my husband’s family.

THIS THANKSGIVING, we will once again gather together at the holiday table. I am thankful for traditions past – and blessed to be engaged in passing them on.

Sue Marquis Bishop 2013