One wintry Saturday afternoon, I tip my nan’s
sewing box out. She isn’t dead, just overseeing what’s
long inside. Each cantilever compartment a rainbow
of embroidery threads, poppers in pairings, knicker
elastic, mushroom darner, skirt and bra extenders 

for when women quietly bloat. Hundreds of fruit drop
buttons stored separately in a shortbread biscuit
gift tin. I make a brew, we read news stories on back
of hand-made patterns. In an envelope are years old
newsheet shapes for a baby’s bonnet never stitched

I read a headline, Youth dies as father performs heart
operation at home. I cut two slices of fruitcake, wait.
Poor boy, bronchitis, collapsed. His father Doctor
Smith, lovely man, intelligent talker, cut open son’s
chest with a razor blade. The mother left soon after. 

Nan picks out blue ribbon, he always was a dear
boy, winds around a bobbin, secures with a pin

Helen Sheppard