The logs of wool jersey plastered with labels
Lay in the lint and litter, columns in a heap
Like a Doric temple left at the shipping dock,
Trucked in from Dan River.
They smelled so sweet,
Concentric rings like cross sections of a tree;
But these would shrink, unwound on the cutting block
Long as an alley to the boy who wheeled them in.
Whistling finale, faille unrolled on the table’s
Spotlit runway, layer on layer, flat
For the cutter’s saw following paper template
To carve out panels of dresses, thirty deep.
That trade, like subsistence farming through thick and thin;
The rounds of seasons, this year’s style or that
Year’s loss; core sample of eternity.
Ribbed faille sings out when it unrolls across
Itself; bolt after bolt lay up, unite
For the blade of Izzy, like a doctor dressed in white,
Sleeves starchly rolled up burly arms; the hum
And glitter of the little circular knife
Softly screaming through reds and tawny umbers
And a sheaf of special orders, orchid and plum;
Glazed taffeta slides, but wool packs tight like moss
For the muscular fist gripping the steel. Rosa,
Testy assistant, baleful refugee,
Helps Izzy— and only Yiddish between them. She
Must keep one sleeve rolled over the indigo
Tattoo; but after work would show its numbers,
Inky brand of her undeniable life.