I opened the gifts one by one,
knowing that the softness I felt
under the antique Santa Claus paper
was yet another bundle of fabric,
more clothes to add
to my ever-expansive wardrobe.
One by one, the patterns were revealed to me:
some plain black cotton,
a Paris print with a sparkly pink tower,
paper cutouts the size of my favorite dolls,
and at last, a sewing machine.
I remember a roomless memory,
my mother and I hovered over the machine,
the internet failing to teach us
how to maneuver the thread.
“We’ll try again later,” she said.
Now, I open the drawer under my bed,
remove a dust-covered box,
running my fingers along the top of it.
I remove the as-new machine,
my failed future.
I walk to my computer, switch taps
from a Buddhism study guide
to an empty Google Docs.
I wonder if I was a seamstress in a past life.
Did I watch my family create the cave paintings
while I sat in the corner, hide on my lap
with a splinter of bone in my hand,
feeling nothing but bliss?
Did I live in the Edwardian era,
tailoring a perfect three-piece suit,
a walking skirt, my daughter’s chemise?
Did I ever pass my grandmother
in a secondhand store,
with my goal of finding a perfect neckline,
my favorite sleeves, a plaid pattern.
Did I find them among the stained and unloved,
did I make them into something beautiful?
Was this not a flashback, but a foreshadow?
Was this a hint at my next life?
Will I do the same with my daughter,
passing down the cotton and glittered tower,
hugging with triumph when the machine roars to life?
Will I be there at her first fashion show?
What if there is no past or future.
What if my soul is me, unchanging, stable.
What if I’m a butterfly,
every passing second another cocoon?
For I am a tree,
and these memories
are my branches.
My left arm holds the present,
the current reality. I fail to sew
even a button, but my dreams
With my right arm,
I hold another present,
equally as real.
In this world, I made my doll a dress,
a bedspread with the leftover fabric.
In this world, I am not a poet,
and I don’t often dream.
In this world, my floor is my stage,
this fabric is my home.
In this world, I know not of other realities.
In this world, I live buried in my ignorant bliss.