Vernice’s Tatting Shuttle, by Nancy Posey

Vernice’s Tatting Shuttle
by Nancy Posey

She sat patiently beside me,
her shuttle in my hands,
her fingers hovering over mine,
trying to teach me to tat,
a Rumpelstilskin trick, turning
mere thread to lace.
She’d work; I’d watch, then
try to mimic her every move.
We both knew I was too young,
the thread too fine; my knots,
a constant conflict, matched
the knots in my gut.
I so wanted not only to know,
but to learn at her side.
When she died, she left me
all her shuttles, some still reeling
off lengths of lace that found
their way to collars of dresses
my babies would wear.
Her favorite shuttle, worn smooth
from her fingers’ magic-making,
I kept close, sometimes rubbing
between index finger and thumb.
At last, I learned. Timing, after all,
is everything in turning straw to gold.

Author’s Comment: “Vernice’s Shuttle,” like many of my poems, was inspired by my family. I spent hours with my great grandmother, digging through her boxes of keepsakes, listening to her stories, and trying to learn to tat. Although I didn’t master the craft until after I had babies of my own, I still love the connection to her when I feel her smooth silver shuttle in my hand.

Bio: Nancy Posey is a native of Florence, Alabama. She currently teaches English at Caldwell Community College in Hudson, NC. Her first collection Let the Lady Speak, published in January 2011 by Highland Creek Books, began as the winning submission in the November Chapbook Challenge on Writers Digest’s Poetic Asides. Posey serves as a board member of the Poetry Council of North Carolina.


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