the museum of americana

a literary review

Two Songs by Mitch Goldwater

 

Quilt

          You work the treadle
          and I’ll guide the square
          you cut from pajamas he used to wear
          I’ll thread the needle
          We’ll sew the pane

Stroke took my legs
He cared for me good
Didn’t think he could
Always knew he would
Remember that, my child,
when you look for a man

He built this house
when your ma was two
It was a thing to do, he said
Was what he knew
Now come sit at my feet,
and give your gramma a hand, and

          you work the treadle,
          and I’ll guide the square
          you cut from pajamas that he used to wear
          I’ll thread the needle
          We’ll sew the pane
          so I can sleep
          with something of him again

Something of him
his skin had long rubbed soft
Something of him
on this something of him rubbed off
Something of him
a cuff, a collar, a seam
Something of him,
that held him as he dreamed
Something of him
sewn on a backing of grey
is something of yours—
to hang on your wall—someday

We know the light
will fade
the colors gray
Life’s just that way,
a little everyday
Threads come undone,
and a patch will go bare

But we hung this quilt
on the day before

she didn’t need it anymore

          You work the treadle,
          and we’ll sew the pane

          You work the treadle
          and I’ll guide the square
          you cut from pajamas
          that he used to wear
          I’ll thread the needle
          We’ll sew the pane

          so I can sleep
          with something of him
          again
 
 

 
 
Sorrow Like Sparrow: A Misunderstanding

As a boy, I thought sorrow
was a kind of bird,
sorrow like sparrow
but mourning with the doves,

a bird that lands
in the grown-ups’ garden,
nests in the maple
above the bare lawn.

          Through the darkest season
          Sorrow, like sparrow,
          finds plenty to eat,

feeds its young
to the hungering sky,
and leaves with a trill
in the wake left behind.

          Through the darkest season
          Sorrow, like sparrow,
          has plenty to eat,

and the taciturn fathers of the house,
and the stoic mothers in their black veils
free of tears in the early hours
fill their feeders with small black seeds.
                              feeds its young—to the hungering sky

And now that I am grey,
the stars come shyly
          to the window in the night.
Are they wondering whether
it’s worth it to shine?
          Can the dark accept the light?

The moon rises slowly
and falls to its knees,
and the sorrows come and go
whenever they please.

          Through the darkest seasons
          Sorrow, like sparrow,
          has plenty to eat,

The moon rises slowly
then falls
                    to its knees,
and the sorrows come and go
whenever they please.
Lord, the sorrows come and go when they please
 
 

 
 
~ ~ ~

Mitch Goldwater teaches poetry writing at Mansfield University. Nowadays he mostly crouches between song and poetry trying to fit the one into the other, right where he thinks they belong. He has an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh and lives in Corning, NY. Some of his songs can be heard on his Bandcamp page: https://mitchgo.bandcamp.com