Today's poem is by Mary Leader


I am tired of being accused of lack of seriousness when I feel
The need to use wingdings as stitches in my poems. I am telling you:

I sue for the following to become compliments: "Gimmicky" "Embellished"
"Fancy" "Slight" "Decorative" "Frivolous" "Labored" "Fontish" "Ornate."

I am saying: To align * poetry * and * needle-art * is to say: I am among
Those historically not taught to read. I subpoena the 16th-C. "Emblem

Books" whose each page shows an image (a "devise"), a motto, then verses.
Rosemary Freeman's book (821.00915F877c) prints an example of one

Of the images worked in embroidery, showing that, while only the men
In the household would likely have been able to read the motto and verse,

The women used the volumes too. When writing mimics thread, you get
Before you read, work perceptible as: "Beautiful" "Meaningful" "Expressive"

"Heartbreaking." I assert, after Philomel: Cut out my tongue and I will weave
My indictment
...but...Stop There. Otherwise the next thing is:

Cut off my hands and I turn into a nightingale forced, suffering (my shame)
To "sing" for the gratification of Shelley, Keats, et al. That adulation

Means a victory for the spear side (opposite the distaff side).
Instead, I tell history: "Go back!" I call on the ancient association

Of Peace-Weavers. At least let me decide on my own bird, choose
A stitcher of horizons, a life between linnet and linen.

Copyright © 2010 Mary Leader All rights reserved
from New Orleans Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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