Ballad of a Needle

If I had an needle I’d sing you a song about a dress.

It would be the pretty blue and white one Mom sent me out to play in.

But, there were benches to climb on and railings to hang from, so

She gave me bloomers to wear under the dress and over my undies.

But I could not hang from railings because people would think that

I’d hang from the railings even if I didn’t have bloomers on and that would be awful,

And shame the family.

So I puzzled about why to have bloomers at all.


Or I’d sing you a song about the dress that was blue,

A jumper with a white blouse with a Peter Pan collar.

This all girls wore everyday to school.

Thus began my total disinterest in fashion.

And my preference for ease and comfort,

To my mother’s dismay.

What beautiful dresses she wore after a lifetime of hand-me-downs!

How about a song about a wedding dress?

It was a beautiful blue and white with beautiful white straw hat.

The maid of honor wore a purple dress and a bridesmaid wore black.

Dresses I wore are far and few between.

It’s like looking for needles in the haystack of memory,

Looking for a needle that could slide between events and clasp them together,

Gather them into a cloth I could cover my present with,

Hold against my cheek and drift off under their weight.

Can I use my grief as a needle and sing a song of loss?

Not about a dress, but about the people who dressed me?

Not about jumpers, but about the friends who touched me?

Not just about dresses, but all the clothes that embraced their soft bodies?

If only I had a needle,

If only I could sing.

About alicebarrett

Small town writer
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