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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Fair Isle Pullover

My father's sister knitted it.
Too long, too loose (until it shrank),
the pattern all her own -
she called it "Viking Fair Isle" -
A small boy's world, as seen by her.

Around the waist, shapes on the prowl:
beneath them, grey and yellow lattice work -
perhaps the sea - became for me,
the gold and silver handle
of a Viking sword.

Then there were flowers in great profusion
I could not fit into my fantasy,
but put them on a cliff top. Later on,
it helped to know that longboats
had been called The Flowers of the Sea.

The West End gallery was small and hot,
the paintings jammed together on its walls.
I did not sense the danger of
that single bar electric fire beneath
The Way the World Will End.

The fantasy unrolled, the boats
still sailed their choppy, woolen sea -
except the burn hole grew, the threads
unravelling. When I was told it was beyond
repair, I saw the way the world might end.

This is my contribution for today to Writers Island's NATIONAL POETRY's Free Writing Month.


Andy Sewina said...

Fair Isle unravelled! A really entertaining read, thanks for posting this.

Stan Ski said...

Pullovers, hand knitted by relatives - it's true; we used to wear them to death!
Great post!

Isabel Doyle said...

I suppose this is the way of the world, but in my experience, jumpers were always handed down, regardless of mending ... lovely Viking stories

Anonymous said...

A fitting Viking Funeral for the sweater!

Anonymous said...

I love that closing sentence.

CiCi said...

Oh my gosh, this caught me off guard and my eyes bulged and my pulse pretty much raced at the end of this wonderful writing. This is way way better than just a sweet story about a sweater knitted by an aunt. That is nostalgic by itself. But to compare it to the end of the world is brilliant.

Carl said...

Nice hook at the end of the poem. I really enjoyed the story you made up of the story the sweater told too. Nicely done.


earlybird said...

Nice story - excellent ending. Very well knitted in!

Elizabeth said...

Threads woven together make several great stories. Really like how you threaded your way through both sweater and myth. Unraveling is a very interesting word, with a great deal of muscle to it.


flaubert said...

Nice blending of the sweater and myth, Dave. Reminds me of some sweaters my mom knitted me and I cringed at the thought of wearing, but I knew they were made with love.
Thanks for the memories:)


Corinna said...

So, I wonder if you really had this pullover. Very nice imagery, relations, nostalgia.

Gerry Snape said...

"The killing" has left us with knitting fever! this is so of the moment! and the ending? not with a bang then?

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

A powerful metaphor gives an absolute determination to these lines. I think will read and reread them. Through matter and what is physical grows all that's metaphysical. Or as the poet says:
"Only through time time is conquered."

vivinfrance said...

Your poem took me back to my own fairisle childhood, and also to the distress of my teenage son when he could no longer fit into a mostly unravelled but much-loved jumper he'd had since was 6.

Good poem.

lucychili said...

a crowded world burning

David Cranmer said...

Sharp, powerful one, Dave.

(Btw did you get my last e-mail?)

Windsmoke. said...

Weaving a sweater and a myth together in a Viking funeral that's a classic, well done :-).

Mr. Walker said...

A beautifully woven story, such great language. I like the perspective of both the boy and the man. And that ending - it's so good.

Linda Sue said...

SWOONING! This says it all and the wool pulled over a young boys eyes.
He might have thought it would last forever.

Dave King said...

And thanks for the response.

Yup, for a while I went everywhere in that.

Yes, that coincides with my memory, but in this case I think it was already past its use by date.

Well said. That hadn't even occured to me!

Hi and a warm welcome to you. Good to have your comment.

Much thanks for that lovely comment. It pretty much seemed like the end of a world, at the time, as I recall.

Many thanks. Much appreciated.

Good to have your comment. Many thanks for it.

And a natty bit of knitting there on your part, too. I'm impressed, so thanks.

Looking back, I don't think we were as worried about what our peers would say, as we are now! Thanks for the comment.

I did indeed. My brother (5 years younger) also had one - later, and not with the Viking interest, I think.

The "Killing" I do not know, though I've heard of it, of course.

An apt quote, if I might say so. Thanks.

I understand his distress, perfectly!

Good to have you commenting. I suppose these days we'd think about suing the gallery!Not then, though.

Much thanks. For some reason I couldn't get into my inbox yesterday. Will check shortly. Than ks again.

I enjoyed that comment. Thanks.

Mr Walker
Thanks for a much appreciated comment. Useful feedback.

Linda Sue
He did, he did, he did! In fact, he was no longer a young boy at the time of the conflagration!