Monday, March 14, 2005

"Stitching Time" By Stephanie Burgis

Check it out at Fortean Bureau:

"Imagine a farmhouse surrounded by snow. Not a thin layer of soft, flaky whiteness, the kind you might see in more civilized climates--this is Northern Michigan, where the snow falls and falls until it buries the roads, covers the windows, and mounts up before the door. The nearest neighbors are a mile away, impossibly far. Every morning, the men in this scattered community dig their way through to the barn where the livestock are sheltered from the cold. Every winter, some of the wives go mad.

There is a special asylum for these women, and in the spring you can watch the line of farm horses pulling them away in carts, plodding down the familiar road once the snow has finally melted. Women who were mail-order brides from the East Coast, seduced by the idea of family and land. Women who carried on correspondences with lonely Western farmers for years before they took the plunge. Dr. Horace Q. Grace will care for all of them, for a very moderate price. Some of them will return to their husbands, almost cured, by the fall. Others will be less lucky, and then their husbands will start all over again, biting on the tips of their pencils as they try to recollect spelling lessons from long ago. A lonely farmer hopes for a woman’s touch....

Thank God for the invention of cross-stitch. As the snow mounts up over the window, we count the months of snow: October, November, December, January, February, March, April, May.... Our husbands tunnel out to the barn, and our needles move, silver flashing through endless reams of fabric. Up and down, count over twice.... Samplers that will hang on our walls, covering the inches, more and more of them as the eight months pass. As the clock in the corner (brought from Boston at great expense) ticks away, ticking away the seconds of our lives. As the bright colors spread across the fabric, mimicking our wildness and our despair."

Read the rest

1 comments so far. Got something to say?

Anonymous said...

Just excellent stuff, and very polished and professional too. Everything is right, the pacing, the mood, the scene. Much deserving of wider recognition. 

Posted by VJ