Elegy for My Half-Finished Quilt

What I know is this: To produce
an Eleanor Burns Quilt, you need steady
hands, machines. I remember white
tables, stacks of fabric like filo dough & girls
with their quiet feet. I don’t remember
if I wore a dress, or how long I was there
or why she left me in a fabric store.
Ten-dollar babysitter, girl-maker, I don’t
know if I’m twisting things. I know

I had a plain face, two missing teeth.
Dad was listening to Pat Robertson
on the radio and I was crushing on Boy
George. I was crushing on Jane
who was so tall. We played tag and her tan
legs dangled from a tree. What hunger. What cut

grass beneath my feet. I ran my fingers
along rows of wound spools called “orchid,” “lilac,”
“tusk.” Dirt under my nails when I gripped
the squares, eyes focused on the needle
as I shackled the quilt top to its backing.
Stock for a hope chest and I could already
smell that cedar trunk, envision it brimming:

Christmas china, white linens, silver
filigree. They said it was about choosing:
How many children do you want? Do you want
boys or girls? Do you want to be loved?
Vision of my body taken, taking in.
Hemmed with a neat and even finish.
The way hot irons smooth out
the ugliest creases.