too, is called a thimble; this heavy galvanized fitting I splice into
three-strand hawser on deck. Outbound
tug Maria. My old man at the helm.
the notion of “thimble” takes me back to that other sort, silvery there on the
third finger of her arthritic hand.
Grandma Maria. Seems it’s always
been there, protecting that fingertip from the little stabs she knew were
coming, leaving the rest of her bare to the unforeseen wounds that would come. There was the thimble as she pushed and
pulled needle and thread, stitch on stitch, as depression flour sacks became
dresses, as a spare blanket became a suit.
Stitch on stitch, still, as my christening gown was shaped. White on white, as a tiny row of sailing
boats was embroidered upon it. Rising infant to be bestowed beneath crosses of
cathedral’s spires on the high hill. And
her father before her, sewing stitch on stitch, white on white, patching sails
blown out ‘round The Horn, stitch on everlasting stitch, triangle needle and
leather palm, from Roaring Forties to Tropic Trades, and more than once,
stitching a shroud: a benediction, a blessing. Fallen sailor to be bestowed
beneath crosses of brigantine’s rig on the high sea. Aroma of pine tar, beeswax, mutton tallow. A very old man, long at anchor, calls out
“Daughter, bring me rum.” She looks up
from her sewing and agrees, “A thimbleful, Father,” as an ocean of time slides
by, sewn with a meridian of stitches.
faithful Maria rises to meet the oncoming
swell. Settles. Rises again.
Ralph Murre is the author of "Crude Red Boat" and "The Price of Gravity, both books of poetry; author and illustrator of "Psalms", a book of poetry and art, co-author, (with Sharon Auberle)of "Wind Where Music Was", a book of poems of experience, and he is editor/publisher of several books of prose, poetry, photography, and drawings from Little Eagle Press, which he founded. Ordering information for these books is available from
firstname.lastname@example.org , as is information regarding this site.
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