Hazel Hall

Knitting Needles

When my great-grandmother died
She left a trunkful of remembering things.
There are carved boxes of sandalwood
Guarding inconsequential trifles of grave
Like scraps of faded ribbon and broken jewellery
and the ash of a pressed rose.
There are fans of ivory,
Pieces of fine, worn lace,
And bundles of yellowed letters.
But most remembering of all are her knitting needles.
They are made of black bone
And gleam with sudden creamy light, like lacquer.
When I touch them
They are cold with the death of many years.
Then quickly they take on a sensuous warmth,
And speak under my knitting hands:

Long ago . . .
There was a garden steeped in spring,
And in remembering . . .
A seat in the shade where flowers were – 
A seat in the shade – and a riotous blur
Of colour and scent and sun-gold June . . .
And the warm-armed mists of last night’s moon,
Clouding, shrouding everything
With new remembering . . .
And every heedless second stirred
At a needle’s click, and passed unheard,
Keeping, sweeping Time.

Long ago . . .
There was a window whose shining pane,
Sun-bright or dimmed with rain,
Framed vistas of an empty day
And a winding road winding away
To end like a raveled thread,
Winding away to coax a tread,
Yet only echoes might it bring,
Echoes long remembering – 
Echoes, vibrant unsilenced sound
That caught up the days in its spirals and wound
The months, the years, around and around,
And hurled them out of the truth of things
Into the heaven of rememberings . . . 
What mattered the minutes slipping past
Under wan hands – unheeded, fast –
Keeping, leaping Time?

Long ago . . .
There were grey depths in a white walled room
Of uncomputed gloom.
There was no sound save a click, click, click,
As even and true as a good clock’s tick;
And nothing of musical silence was there
To ease the weight of unwaved air.
Outside there was no winter nor spring,
Within there was no remembering –
There was no need of remembering,
Except to cast on the stitches right;
Only the need of a little light
A little longer – nothing at all
Save the clicking moments’ rise and fall,
As, proud in their own importance at last,
They clicked and nicked their way . . . and passed . . .
Into Time.