Needlepoint Sampler

November 14, 2019

I imagine Emma on a winter night, an eight-year-old curled fireside in a wing chair, proving her skill with weeping willows...

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I did my beSt

-Emma Hull 1793

 

I imagine Emma on a winter night,

an eight-year-old curled fireside

in a wing chair, proving her skill

with weeping willows fashioned

from a rhythm of XXXs, gold diamonds

suspended like stars in the corners,

an alphabet without J, abandoned at q,

sutured with blood red silk.

Hung now in my child’s room,

the mottled linen square hides

all signs of Emma’s struggle

as she aimed her needle’s sharp intent

with all the backbone a soul can summon.

For years I believed she stopped before Z

from boredom or springtime, but now

I imagine her bedridden, fallen

from her horse, threading hours

until recovery, inspiring me

after my own daughter’s Shanghai crash,

one vertebrae crushed, spinal cord

spared, flat on her back in Ruijin Hospital

waiting for titanium rods and screws,

her surgeon and I reviewing the MRI

when he makes a pledge: I will do my best

to take good care of your daughter,

words that make me dizzy, ecstatic,

comforted by a strange harmony

with Emma’s assertion, suddenly trusting

him in my bones, how he understood

the A B C’s of hope and taught me

to make his promise to every patient,

enduring as diamonds sewn into cloth,

simple enough for a child to grasp.

Disclosures:

Dr Berlin is Instructor in Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA.

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