A few months ago I cane across a book of poetry written by Jane Kenyon.
Her name was new to me, as was her poetry, but the few poems that were available to me interested and touched me, and I sent away for her Collected Poems. I have been enjoying them immensely ever since, and was sorry to read that she had died in 1995.
I had marked Page 248 with a little slip of paper, to remind myself to go back and read her poem "Not Here", because it reminded me of a little calamity I had experienced, (and I will tell you about after you have read Jane's account of her experience)......
"Searching for pillowcases trimmed
with lace that my mother-in-law
once made, I open the chest of drawers
upstairs to find tthat mice
have chewed the blue and white linen
dishtowels to make their nest,
and bedded themselves among embroidered dresser scarves
and fingertip towels.
Tufts of fibers, dropping like black
caraway seeds,and the stains of birth
and afterbirth give off the strong
unforgettable attar of mouse
that permeates the old farmhouse
on humid summer days.
A couple of hickory nuts
roll around as I lift out
the linens, while a hail of black
falls on the pillow cases,
yellow with age, but intact.
I'll bleach them and hang them in the sun
to dry. There's almost no one left
who knows how to crochet lace.
The bright-eyed squatters are not here.
They've scuttled out to the fields
for summer, as they scuttled in
for winter, along the wall from chair
to skirted chair, making themselves
flast and scarce while the cat
dozed with her paws in the air,
and we read the mail
or evening papers, unaware"
Well, my calamity happened in the dead of night, but it was while Callie was still with us, probably deep in sleep on the couch.
I had been busy weaving, as usual, and had made a scarf that I was especially delighted with,,, Along our hallway my oldest son put a railing at elbow level, to discourage falling, but I found that it was just the thing to hang folded scarves and tea towels and other weavings, straight off the loom.
This is where I had put the scarf in question, so I could admire it!
Here is a picture of the fringe that hung on each end!!
Some time during the night a little mouse (or a little rat) came along and chewed each fringe from one end of the scarf - right to the hemstitching on the end!!
So now the scarf sits in my Hope Chest (although I don't have hopes that it will grow a new fringe) -
and some day soon I will snip off the fringe from the other end, and hem both ends neatly.
So there is my tale of woe which is quite as soul searing as the damage done to Jane Kenyon's mother-in-law's lace edged pillow case.