Summer 1990 • Vol. XII No. 3 Poetry |

The Altar Needlework

She who created   sits, she mollusks somewhere, sits in a family room   on Herring Creek, in front of Nature or Your Wild America, sits postparturient from these her creatures;   but she's abstracted here, by no means here,   not in this empty one-room church all whirling arches; altar replenished   with thick wool palette-stitches; her fat wool stitches crosses,   double crossed. In the image of her Creek   she fashioned them: beatified blotched frog,   the feathered Red, the papered yellow Wings. Inviting knees: fall on   the Herring pine-skeins fine as shad bones;   fall on the bristly pink azalea's microsporophyll:   bury your knees in pardon, adoration,   mute hosanna. Just missing is the quail's voice and the chirp of creek; but they're not far; half in the air,   my snail's horns listening here in this church inherited.   The pattée cross aloft hangs,   ethered up. The passion flower   irrays out its nails.

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Eleanor Ross Taylor was a writer of poetry, short fiction, and literary criticism. Widow of the noted novelist Peter Taylor (1917–1994), Taylor was associated with a literary circle that included figures such as Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, and Robert Penn Warren.

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