My Funeral Silk
by Alden Dean
Alden Dean

The author earned a BS in history from Elmira College and an MAE in creative writing from Notre Dame de Namur University. Currently a freelance writer, he has received several awards including grand prize for his poetry from Natica Angilly's Dancing Poetry Society/Artists' Embassy International, first prize for his essay in the San Mateo County Fair, and an honorable mention for his work in a ByLine Short Story Contest. He writes under the pen name Alden Dean.

A former member of the California Writer's Club Peninsula Branch, he has attended CWC's Jack London Conferences and a memoir workshop by Linda Joy Myers. He has also studied with John Fox, past president of CPITS (California Poets in the Schools); Tom Barbash at Stanford University; and poets Jackie Berger and Ellen Bass. His work has appeared in passager, The Bohemian, The Pegasus Review, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

I spent the afternoon unraveling my funeral silk
            checking for holes within the
careful quiltings and nattered threads,
            woven beginnings collected strand by strand

Gently my fingers coddle and soothe nervous fabric
            once bound to disorderly flesh gowned in reddest red
eagerly testing truth in the backseat of the Dodge
            strengthening the burn

Smeared hands pull the gathered hempen cord into
            elegant refinements, filling out shouldered places
searching pockets for heirloom pearls,
            tiny worlds of creamy white, pure as Mary's sorrows
needled in and around the folds of wedding lace

Weary thumbs press fond rememberings
            next season's unstrained swellings
quickened under cradled births,
            told in bib-stories,
cross-stitched bunnies and leggy fawns
            nibbling even spaces between nights and days of
childhood's darling hour

Couched in sweaty palms threads bunch and
            spindle into bloodstains, torn-out love-work
coffined in appliquéd finery ragging the hemline,
            rotting fibers sunk in sad places

My thimbled fingers gather piecework
            graced by evening's tear, drop-stitched seductions,
French knots worked loose
            gradually slipped into
a blue sheltering shawl

            Deliberately my knowing fingertips take up the work,
pull the one free thread
            left trailing,
unbound silk,
            waiting patiently for heaven's
                                                satined joinery

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