Poetry Pause: Carolyne Van Der Meer — The Sewing Box

Poem Author: Carolyne Van Der Meer Poem title: the Sewing Box Poem: She has put it off for weeks, replacing the broken button on his jacket cuff because of the full-to-the-brim vintage sewing box  and the à la carte bag of spare buttons and thread filaments that have accumulated through a history of purchases   Cup of Earl Grey by her side, she finally looks in the box a wooden accordion contraption that anyone who sews  would recognize, its tiered compartments only visible upon lifting the twin lids and pulling them outward   Random pins and bits of tangled thread fill the slotted chambers cards sporting extra buttons, some with fancy designer names, others not lists of materials—100% cotton; 80% rayon, 20% nylon; 70% mohair, 30% acrylic; the indisputable 100% pure virgin wool   These breakdowns, no matter how predictable never fail to hold her attention through the fine print as she opens the pin tin, sorts those with coloured heads from those without into their destinations, where you could indeed hear the pin drop   And the Kraft peanut butter jar a pudgy bear that holds the old button collection, ones from her own small years from which she fishes out a long ribbon of favourites strung together by her son when he was little enough to care   military buttons, those covered in silk or flecked with gold ones shaped like anchors, others like suns still others with their brand stamped in thin, fine lettering— she holds it up, this necklace of jewels, smiles, and having failed    to locate the match for the suit cuff, lowers it back into the jar,  separates iron-on tape and stretches of lace, suede elbow patches, needle threaders with their Queen Wilhelmina faces, snipped ends from too-long trousers, sewing machine bobbins for multi-coloured strands   Making a pile of refuse and rejects, fingers the specimens she keeps sometimes cutting them from cardboard labels or old tags deep in the à la carte bag, sees in them a map of choices, the wheat from chaff the fork in the proverbial road   Some hours later when she settles on the missing button  she notes it’s not a perfect match, stitches it into place careful to slip it partially under another button in the row of four just like the tailors do—and seeks her husband’s approval     He nods, says quietly no one will notice  slips his hand into hers, where, despite the years it doesn’t quite fit, and under her breath she says, no one will notice squeezes hard End of poem.  Credits: Copyright © Carloyne Van der Meer  Carolyne Van Der Meer is a journalist, public relations professional and university lecturer. She has published journalistic articles, essays, short stories and poems in publications in Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S. Her first book, Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience, was published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press in 2014. Her second book, a collection of poetry entitled Journeywoman, was published in 2017 by Toronto-based Inanna Publications. Her third book, Sensorial, is forthcoming from Inanna in 2021.