Jessamyn Smith


Look at her, knitting.

Making jewelry, weaving rugs, spinning clay
on never-ending wheels between strong and shapely
hands, firing shapes into permanence you can drink from:

look at her cooking from scratch, weeding the garden daily
to keep the food local and gourmet both, picking up extras
at the organic market she cannot afford, but negotiating

a deal, even though she’s in a rush, because she also works
full time and the commute is a bitch. Look at her sew buttons,
yours and hers, look at her say ‘just keep out of the way, honey,

I’ll take care of everything.’ Laugh, and go sit on the porch;
stare at the sky, relax, feel grateful for her competence
and creativity. Look at her take up new hobbies; now she learns

to use watercolors, now she makes pillows from recycled trash,
now she learns the traditional spices of North Africa to use
in your dinner, now she catalogues every tenor sax player

recorded between 1920 and 2000, now she learns how to do business
in Turkish, make love in Spanish, read poetry in Greek, translate
medical information in Khmer, on a volunteer basis. Give her children:

now she learns to never sleep, the developmental stages of intellect
and social skills, the arguments for home-schooling vs. supporting
public schools, she becomes a child activist; an expert in all things

puke-related, diaper-related, and safety-related, an elementary school,
day care, social justice agency and cleaning service in one. Tell her
about the woman you know who does all these things and also makes

all her own clothes. Praise her craftiness, her generosity and near-magical
generation of all that you need, she’s like that magic sack from fairy tales,
this woman, amazing: a bit of a dilettante, it’s true, while you focus

on the deep work, but that’s part of her charm, she is multi-faceted.
Look at her on the board of the arts council, reading books about how
to give better blow jobs, keep her marriage passionate, and negotiate

your mid-life crisis; look at her call her relationships ‘girls night.’
Look at her there in that chair, knitting, her feet up, when you say:
‘Honey, I’ve been looking everywhere for you, I need your help,’

and she yawns, there are bags under her eyes, the yarn she holds
is cerulean and indigo and purple, it pools at her feet when she rises,
and you say: ‘Aphrodite of the wool,’ and laugh, and you say:

‘Why do you knit, baby? There are enough sweaters in the world.
Remember the reindeer one your aunt inflicted on me last winter?’
And she gathers the wool neatly, and answers: ‘It soothes me.’



Jessamyn Smyth’s short story "A More Perfect Union" from American Letters and Commentary Issue 17 (November 2005) was selected as one of the “100 Distinguished Stories of 2005” by Best American Short Stories 2006, and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her poetry, short stories, and prose appear in various print and electronic journals and anthologies, including Red Rock Review, Nth Position, Naugatuck River Review, Cezanne’s Carrot, MiCrow/Full of Crow, Abalone Moon, Qarrtsiluni, The Montucky Review, Meat for Tea, Wingbeats: Exercises and Practice in Poetry and For Here or To Go: Stories From The Service Industry. Her plays have been produced by Arena Civic Theater, Naked Theater, The Paul Alexander Gallery, The Country Players, and The Shea Theater Festival of New Work. Jessamyn is a recipient of a 2010-2011 Welcome Hill Fellowship, a 2007 recipient of an artist’s grant from The Vermont Community Foundation, and a 2004 special grant recipient of the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference. She has been visiting faculty at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst in The Commonwealth College, Middlebury College, The University of Pennsylvania's Writer's Conference, and several other schools throughout New England.

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