Fuse #8

Friday, March 09, 2007

She Who Happens To Be My Mom

Happy Poetry Friday to you.
Four, count 'em, four remembered weeks in a row. The system works.

Anywho, here's another one from Susan Ramsey.

Originally published in Poetry Northwest, Vol.XLII, Number 3, Fall 2001

Washing My Husband's Kilt Hose: A 32-Bar Reel

You wash wool with shampoo. If you learn nothing
else today, learn that, to use shampoo
and water the temperature of a baby's bath.
What I have in the sink here aren't argyles,

but proper kilt hose I knit stitch by stitch, gray
for daytime, formal whites, choosing among
dozens of possible cuffs, customized gussets
to accommodate the bulging calves

of Scottish country dancers, whose heels must never
touch the floor, perpetual Barbie-feet
moving through jigs, reels, strathspays, till sweat and effort
equal ease and grace. The ones who say

"the important thing is just to have fun" miss
the most fun and the point, which is not fun
but joy, daughter of the difficult.
It's the kind of lesson climate teaches,

climates where sheer survival is success,
complaint as bad as cowardice, the humor deadpan,
self-control a given, not a goal --
an attitude empires find useful. Thermopolae, Dunkirk;

to delay catastrophe they place the best
regiments behind, the Spartans, Scots,
murdered or interned for the duration.
The Spartans combed and died. The Scots composed

a dance for captured warriors, "The Reel
of the 51st." Bemused Nazi guards
watched them practice, muscles taut as barbed wire.
It's hell to dance. These socks are stomped to felt,

dancing defiance of Nazis long since dead. No one
would knit these hose for any amount of money
a Scot would pay. Only one currency
is deep enough. I pat them out to dry.

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At 8:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whooboy! Did I like that one. Yes I did.

At 12:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, call me slow. But just to clarify, Susan Ramsey is your mother?

Wow. No wonder you love words. I've loved the two poems of hers I've seen here. Thanks!

At 1:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this poem for two reasons. First, because it's excellent, second, because it's a note I sent to the beloved poet after realizing she was The Rams that really got our friendship rolling. I get to meet her in person for the very first time in April. I am beyond excited.

At 3:06 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Oh ah? Well, she's very cool. And yes, she is my mother. I don't like writing, "Look at my mom's poetry," since (as she herself pointed out) everyone's mother writes poetry. Still, not everyone's mother is published so... there's that. You'll like meeting her. I love how she abstains from ever commenting on her own poems. Very modest of you, mom.

At 8:55 PM , Blogger Sarah Louise said...

Oh I will have to come back and re-read that one. To savor it. Lovely poetry, and Happy Birthday to your mom!!

At 10:20 PM , Blogger Saipan Writer said...

Thanks for the poem. Loved it all, from start to finish, but the Oh wow moment for me was the line "but joy, daughter of the difficult"...

Not everybody's mother writes poetry. Thanks for sharing.

At 10:28 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

What an amazing poem. Your mother is really talented!

At 3:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome. I really loved this one, too.

At 11:40 PM , Blogger Nancy said...

This is a lovely poem!


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