—for Mavis Pacchioli
Everyone who weaves, starts with placemats,
Mavis tells me. We are talking about craft shows
and prices for handmade blankets, scarves, and shawls.
The amounts we’ve paid when facing the maker
of crafts in the middle of a fairground shaded with people.
That a story builds by row upon row of fabric,
in the meditation in the making, and in whom
the blanket is for—what friend or child, whether they
are sick, newly married, what valleys they live in.
It didn’t matter how much her shawls sold for,
because the crafting paid in joy and travel
to those river-warped towns with her husband.
Before describing her most recent loom, Mavis tells me
the story of her first one—small, gifted from her Aunt Mary,
a teacher for seventy years, and also a poet who supported Mavis
going to college, from a graduating high school class
of fourteen and a one-room schoolhouse before that.
Further back, Mavis’s grandfather was a woodworker,
guide at Luray Caverns, a railway worker who lost his hand
and kept sawing, sanding. He was a regional legend with a name
still remembered when Mavis returned to visit
their Blue Ridge Mountain town.
Knitting got me through many tough times
in my life, Mavis tells me. And out of those times
she created objects of beauty she keeps closest to her
and that she still makes for friends. Her bedspread and
the delicate shawl she wore to see musicals, the opera—
the beauty humans pull around us
even when we aren’t cold or tired.
©2021 by Joe Bueter