The Necktie Quilt

After his death at eighty-three, which she believed was premature
and the fault of paramedics who’d ‘taken their time’ to arrive,
she set about thirty years of his neckties, the gifts of grateful clients
whose grubby affairs he’d settled in and out of court,
while she’d looked on, applauding his victories, folding away ties.

Now she selected only the silk ones, unpicked them with meticulous
care, pressed them under a damp cloth until every crease was smoothed,
arranged them on the dining room table: the bold paisleys, their backs
curled against regimental stripes, the gaudy florals, which had made him smile,
but were never worn, cheeky polka dots, a couple of sombre knits
she suspected were synthetic.

Day after day, the old Singer hummed and whirred as she tacked
the strips together, and when the backing was attached, the borders
feather-stitched by hand, she found a place for every scrap left over:
trim for a dresser scarf, appliqué for scatter cushions, a white curtain
tied back with a sash of hand-painted peacocks, an old dressing gown
with a new belt, flaunting wild geometrics.

Swathes of unexpected colour cropped up in unexpected places,
the fallen-fruit silks of mulberry, gold and plum, a splash of scarlet
in an inner sleeve, reminding her of the flash of a whore’s petticoat—
a certain woman she saw once, slipping out of his office.
When it was finished, she shook it out, flung it across her single bed.

by Wendy Klein

There are some exciting creative writing and poetry events happening in Oxford over the next two weeks. From 7-11 May, the Pegasus Theatre hosts Oxford Brookes’ Amazing Acts festival, which this year features, amongst other events, a creative writing showcase hosted by Philip Pullman; ‘Visions of the Future’: pieces of writing born from collaborations between the sciences and humanities; and ‘Poetry and Business: Risk, Recession, Recovery’, in which MBA students and established poets collaborate. Find out more about the festival and how to buy tickets on this page.

This week’s poet, Wendy Klein, will be reading at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Oxford with Dorothy Yamamoto on Wednesday 15 May at 8pm. You can find more details on our Facebook page.

‘The Necktie Quilt’ is copyright © Wendy Klein, 2013. It is reprinted from Anything in Turquoise by permission of Cinnamon Press.

Notes from Cinnamon Press:

By turns raw, tender, and humorous, Anything in Turquoise takes us on a lyrical and emotional journey from an American childhood filled with ‘Bebbe Meises’ (old wives’ tales) to points east – Mongolia, from where ‘Having failed and failed to grasp lessons/about cultures in varying states of disrepair/having walked away even sadder’, we are moved to Vietnam where not only an American helicopter, but the poet is ‘caught and pinned’, and to Cambodia, where a school-turned-Khmer Rouge holds ‘a single framed image/for each grisly death, galleries/or portraits … half a holocaust /under my feet.’ Moving West we are caught in ‘Hurricanes and other Storms’, ‘the tilted headstones and bones left by Katrina … they know how to bury their dead’, before finding ourselves in California where a slippery past intrudes on the present and the poet’s mother is sharpening ‘her Semitic tongue’ to ‘lacerate the soul-less goyem’ before ‘lurching towards incarceration, divorce,/death.’ Finally we find ourselves ‘Elsewhere’ in the company of Jackson Pollock repainting the cave until we stand, ‘blinded/by this orgy of naked colour, already pining for our past.’ You can find out more about the collection at Cinnamon’s site here.

Wendy Klein‘s poetry has appeared in many anthologies and poetry magazines. A retired family psychotherapist, she is a regular reader at the Troubadour and Poets’ Cafe in Reading. Her first collection was Cuba in the Blood (Cinnamon Press). She enjoys belly-dancing and the curative company of dogs.

Cinnamon Press is an independent publisher run by a family team and based in North Wales and the Midlands. We select books that we feel passionate about and concentrate on a list of poetry and fiction titles into which we put maximum effort at every stage of development. We also run regular writing courses and writing competitions, including major awards for poets, novelists and short story writers and a series of mini competitions. Find out more about the publisher and join their mailing list here. You can also find Cinnamon on Facebook and on Twitter.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.