Quilt Block

The stitches are not tiny -
the woman who made them was old.
The quilts she had made when she was young
burned up in the filling station fire:
the one that almost killed her grandson
right after he returned from bombing missions
over Germany. He was scarred;
his arms, his chest and half his face,
and the quilts were gone
and the station was gone, the cash
register where her daughter rang up sales
of gasoline, kerosene, Camel cigarettes,
Baby Ruths, Wonder Bread, Royal Crown.
All gone. The building gone.
With all those great things gone,
who would mourn a dozen quilts -
Log Cabin, Wedding Ring, Texas Star,
Storm At Sea, Sunshine And Shadow,
Patchwork. And the stitches,
cross-stitch, flat fell, applique - a lifetime
of tiny stitches - who could mourn them,
even name them, even remember?
As she grew old, she grew silent.
When she died, all of her possessions
were in two dresser drawers in a room
behind the new filling station. There were
a few dark dresses, a shoebox full of letters,
a mustache mug that had been her father's,
and a few quilt blocks in unrelated patterns,
not attached to anything.

PAT SCHNEIDER is director of Amherst Writers & Artists and editor of AWA Press. A documentary film on her writing workshop with low-income women has received international awards.


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