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The Names of Quilts
Devon Miller-Duggan


Well no, I don’t prick myself often,
and thimbles are a nuisance,
feel like dead fingers.
This one? A Drunkard’s Path,
colors and curves, the blue was
Aunt Mary’s Sunday dress—
she was partial to the blackberry brandy.
When I got married, Ma made two,
Century of Progress and Goose in the Pond.
Eli was a good man,
we kept warm enough.
There in that corner,
Grandma Hastings made that,
Hands All Around. She once cured Sarah Nuttall
just by touching her. But Sarah was always sickly.
Made my girl a Corn and Beans, always liked
growing things. She made one, Electric Fans,
good with a needle that one,
liked fancy things.
The women in town, they’re working
on Robbing Peter to Pay Paul.
Talking mostly, it’ll take a year,
never get done for the church bazaar.
They go in for religious patterns.
In that chest there’s a Old Maid’s Puzzle,
Grandma never finished it
and I didn’t want to before I met Eli,
bad luck. Then the babies came
and there wasn’t time.
Well, when I do prick myself,
just rub it on a red piece
for good luck.

This poem first appeared in CutBank 11, 1978.
Used here with the author’s permission.

Devon Miller-Duggan teaches in the English Department of the University of Delaware, is married to an historian, and has two grown daughters and one splendid grandson. She is the author of Pinning the Bird to the Wall, published in  2008 by Tres Chicas Books. Devon's other jobs include flower arranging (semi-pro), grandson-sitting, and making angel-themed jewelry of various sorts. Her current project is an online poetry journal, "Kenning," that will feature sound recordings of poets reading his or her poems.


Post New Comment:
Thanks very much, everyone. Especially Jo.
Posted 11/05/2011 11:03 AM
Devon, Really enjoyed reading this poem again. Your book is one of my favorites.
Posted 11/04/2011 10:03 PM
wendy morton:
Wonderful. All those stories, this poem is a quilt.
Posted 11/04/2011 10:19 AM
Thank you, Devon! I love this. I feel your attitude to thimbles is like mine to umbrellas - they kind of desensitize a person. And I like the Corn and Beans, really growing. 'Robbing Peter to Pay Paul' is a new idea for me - but sharing the job of keeping warm, whilst engaging new Proper Nouns shows the point (!) of unarmoured sense.
Posted 11/04/2011 08:50 AM
my grandma was a quilter--tried to teach me--hopeless! wonderful poem.
Posted 11/04/2011 08:28 AM

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