Women’s Work

Fingers, crochet hook and yarn
form patterns she’s internalised,
needing no instruction from the printed page.
Endless variations on the unsung
tenor of her days cohere into a honey-
comb of circles, squares and hexagons.

No two woven cells the same –
though uniform in size and frame –
the colours seem to know where they
belong, as if they self-select, conversing
on familiar themes in polychrome, in diverse
tones, varying to chime with will or whim.

Hands that have been seldom idle
have a need to prove their skill –
reiterating promises of warmth and ease
for ageing knees; fashioning bright coverlets
for infant prams; guarantees against the chill
of aching bones – the kilometres fingers
must traverse to earn their keep.

She’s unaware how similar her rugs appear
to concentric whorls and gyres of desert
women’s art, mapping cycles of their lives,
telling of their works and days in glyphs
initiates can read, whereas other eyes perceive
a cryptic maze – a private mirror for the public gaze.

Jena Woodhouse


Jena Woodhouse’s latest publication is Green Dance: Tamborine Mountain Poems (Calanthe Press 2018).

© 2018