Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Women's History Poetry: On women quilting

We begin innocently,
as strangers,
stitch and turn,
repair and bind,
the talk between quilts
held us together,
stories, dreams, revelations, laughter.
We shared more than fabric.
We began to quilt for others.
Sometimes we were angry.
Sometimes we despaired.
Stitch and turn,
repair and bind.
We attended weddings and funerals.
Our quilts remain,
a history of stitches.

This is the first little poem I've written in quite a while. Pared down to simplicity, the words remind me of how women create beauty out of small scraps of fabric, sometimes those scraps that we cannot throw out. So we repurpose, and the quilts remain to brighten our daily lives. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have old quilts, those made by women we knew.

Quilting has gradually become a passion, a process of making something from a flat piece of cloth. You'll find a quilt in every book I write, sometimes drawn from history. The fascinating story of the Rajah Quilt, made in 1841 by women transported to Van Diemen's Land (present day Tasmania) for petty crimes is hidden like a small quilt block in Standing Stones. Can you imagine being down in the hold of a small sailing vessel, on a trip that took four months, and sewing a quilt?

This poem came about because of Morgan Dragonwillow's mini-poetry challenge to celebrate Women's History Month. See what others have written here. Morgan will be back here as a guest on March 15 to introduce her new book, Wild Woman Waking.