Puritan Woman

Artifax, Vol. 1.2 (1971)

Rose Shade

I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits.
			Anne Bradstreet

There in Massachusetts
We built our "city upon a hill"
For all the world to see
And find example in--
But that first winter
There was just the land,
Lying before us
Like a vast unfinished garment--
And my cold hands holding needle
Were only female
And busy with the work of babes.
The men would slash and shape the earth,
And style to God's design
The stuff of law and state;
I had small garments of my own
To fashion.  So in the chill
Of winter nights by candle--
When the children were in bed--
Why did my hand, shaped only
For the shaft of spinning wheel
Or bar of cradle,
Dare to grasp a pen?
Perhaps it was the bare house,
The wolf's howl, the Indians,
The memory of those months of shifting sea--
And Simon gone away for days;
Perhaps the words, dancing into shape
In neat and airy couplets,
Imposed design on savage vastness
And hemmed up the ragged edge of newness
With thread from across the seas.
So between the cradle
And the oven, with fresh brown
Bread baking and infants babbling,
I wrote, and Simon understood.

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