A Gift from a Quilter

Friday afternoon I attended the funeral of a quilter. S. was unbelievably talented, particularly with appliqué. Years ago, decades really, I took an appliqué class from her and while appliqué didn't really stick, it's one of those things I have on my "when-I-retire" list (as in, "when I retire I'll alphabetize all my spices, finally read War and Peace and Moby Dick, and learn to appliqué really, really well.") It intimidates me.

But S. never intimidated me. There wasn't a kinder, more self-effacing soul around...her workmanship and color sense were exquisite, but she'd act as though her quilts were just any old thing, in a way that made you laugh, both because she laughed all the time, and because you knew her quilts were really something special. In the program from her funeral was a paragraph she'd written about her quilting, and one line in particular struck me as so true—"Indeed, it is the this initimate relationship between the quilter and the cloth—the needling and holding of the fabric—that makes quilting a uniquely personal art form."

I want to share a poem that was read at her funeral—there were two, and both by Czeslaw Milosz. The first was "Encounter." The second is reproduced below. Thanks once again, S., for sharing a glimpse of something beautiful.

Gift (1971)

A day so happy.
Fog lifted early.
I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping
Over the honeysuckle flowers.

There was no thing on earth
I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.

Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.

In my body, I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw blue sea and sails.