Home Economics

Kathryn Stripling Byer Click to read more...

Kathryn Stripling Byer has published six books of poetry, including The Girl in the Midst of the Harvest (Texas Tech U. Press, AWP Award Series, 1986), Wildwood Flower (LSU, 1992) and Descent (LSU, 2012).  Her poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in newspapers and journals ranging from Atlantic Monthly to Appalachian Heritage.  She was the 2007 recipient of the Hanes Award in Poetry from the Fellowship of Southern Writers and has served as North Carolina’s Poet Laureate.  Her most recent collection is Descent (LSU, 2012). She lives in Cullowhee, N. C., surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.

circa 1960

Now girls, look carefully
at your embroidery stitches.

Blind stitch or hem stitch.
Back stitch or chain stitch.
Don’t forget whip stitch.
And French Knots.

A good stitch reveals
a wife’s  character.

But what if I did not want
to be wife?  To spend nights bending over
a story of ever more winding and
blossoming foliage?

This looks like running
stitch.  Why all the hurry?

When will this lesson
ever be over? Its hoop cast
aside on the table
or turned in for judgment?

Last of all, look at the underside.
What do you see?

I see the violets now
become unrecognizable.
The bluebirds, the inexorable
bluebirds of happiness snarled.

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