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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sewing (02/22/07)

TITLE: Mama's Sewing Machine
By Sharlyn Guthrie


It woke me in the morning
and hummed throughout my dreams,
the rat-a-tat-a-tat of
Mama’s sewing machine.

As I dressed my dollies or
built castles with my blocks
Mama’s skillful fingers sewed
my dainty little frocks.

She’d start by pinning patterns
to fabric underneath.
I’d hear her mumbling to me
with pins between her teeth.

Then armed with gleaming scissors
or else with pinking shears,
a rhythmic chomping sounded
like music in my ears.

I wondered how she knew where
to make her marks with chalk.
I’d snatch a piece for scrawling
stick people on the walk.

Removal of the pattern
provoked a tiny doubt.
Why was she now re-pinning
the fabric inside out?

Next came the tat-tat-tatter
as piece was stitched to piece,
and then each seam was ironed
to emphasize the crease.

As she sewed, I dumped her tin
of buttons on the floor;
then sorted piles of colors
around me on the floor.

I stuffed the buttons in my socks
and shook them as I ran,
adding my percussion to
her rat-a-tat-a-tan.

When time came for my fitting
I sucked in all my breath.
Sharp pins threatened to poke me;
they scared me half to death.

I viewed with eyes bedazzled
the garment taking shape
with smocking on the bodice
and underskirt of crepe.

With rat-a-tat now finished,
her thimble Mama took
to blind-stitch ‘round the hemline
and fasten eye and hook.

From yard goods to perfection
before my wondering eyes
a dress fit for a princess
hung finished in my size.

Throughout my days of childhood
and as a gangly teen
Mama’s rat-a-tat-a-tat
accompanied every scene.

Sweet diaper sets for dollies
and dungarees for play,
pleated skirts for cheerleading
and clothes for everyday,

A fancy gown for prom night…
Would I have my first kiss?
my dress for graduation
of pale blue dotted swiss.

She made clothing for travel
that took me ‘round the world,
matched outfits for my bridesmaids
and giggly flower girls.

My Mama kept on sewing;
made PJ’s for my boys,
three Easter suits of velvet
and teddy bears for toys.

Her rat-a-tat-a-tat-al
continued through the years,
weaving tender memories
with sentimental tears.

One day she rang my doorbell
and much to my surprise,
a lovely quilt unfolded
amid astonished cries.

Joined in a four-heart pattern
lay pieces of my past.
It was her finest offering
and it would be her last.

Mama lives in Heaven now
and sometimes in my dreams
I see her sewing raiment
for the angels. How it gleams!

It’s buried in my closet.
The motor’s silent now.
I’m not as skilled as Mama,
but she spurs me on, somehow.

And sensing Mama’s presence
through the vision I've seen,
I begin to rat-a-tat on
Mama’s sewing machine.

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This article has been read 1009 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sue Dent03/01/07
Okay, stop it! I'm running out of tissue. Who knew sewing could be so "darn" emotional. I've read two poetic entries that drove me to tears. That's it! I'm through for the night. Ahhhh, but they were worth the read! *snif snif* Thanks for the memories. I have a knitted blanket from my Big Mamma and my grandma!
Julie Arduini03/04/07
If there is anything wrong with this one I don't see it and I don't care. It was well crafted, smooth, emotional, and just all around fantastic. Excellent work!
Jacquelyn Horne03/05/07
Wonderful lifetime memory of mama, differently done in poem form. Good job.
Jan Ackerson 03/06/07
The onomatopoeia throughout is extremely effective!
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/06/07
I love this character study of a mother, all through a daughter's life. The description was excellent. The sounds moved it along.
Betty Castleberry03/06/07
Yes! This is how a poem should be written. I love the story too.
Joanne Sher 03/07/07
LOVE the rat-a-tat repetition - so very effective. Lovely lovely lovely!
Laurie Glass 03/07/07
What a precious poem. Well done.
Donna Powers 03/07/07
I really enjoyed this especially the repetitive sound. Thanks for sharing it
Debbie Burgett03/08/07
I really loved this poem. I even read it aloud to my very quiet, non-reader of a husband and his face got all soft and he commented, "Wow." That is very high praise!