Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Measure and Stitch

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I pull the tape measure taut
against my daughter's spine
run it around her forehead,
her chest, down her arm
marking numbers onto quick
outline penciled on a scrap
of paper as she stands tall

and still. I draw the length
of her sleeve, the breadth
of bodice, the round
of a hat, onto tissue
smoothed across a kitchen
island designed as much
for the spread of fabric
as for rolling pie crusts
and slicing apples.

Each October, the ritual
repeats, ushering in quiet
nights of snipping fur or satin
pinned under sketched patterns,
pieced together at the antique
Singer humming in quiet rhythm
with the breath of those asleep
upstairs, unaware of the steady
pull of the presser foot, grabbing
fabric forward and forward,
needle up and down, retrieving
magic thread from turning
bobbin, beat upon beat.

Through the night, seams pinned,
basted, secured with hooks
and zippers give form to the yards
of tulle, of taffeta laid out long
hours before and once again
by dawn, now reshaped into garments
fit for a fairy or long-tailed cat,
for scarecrow or feisty Star Wars
princess, to be discovered by a sleepy
girl who learned to believe
in the magic of the night.

Ann E. Wallace, PhD, writes of life with illness, motherhood, and other everyday realities. Her poetry collection Counting by Sevens is forthcoming from Main Street Rag, and her published work, featured in journals such as Mothers Always Write, BloodSugarPoetry, Wordgathering, The Literary Nest, Rogue Agent, and Juniper, can be found on her website She lives in Jersey City, NJ and is on Twitter @annwlace409.

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