“The Wind is sewing with needles of rain”: Hazel Hall’s “Two Sewing”

Yesterday was the (of late) rare fine day here in Boston, so my son and I were able to take a long walk (without coats!). Finally, it felt a bit like spring, with the crocuses blooming in confirmation:

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Crocuses are a particular favorite of mine, so I looked for a poem that mentions them. Some heavy hitters cropped up in my search: Tennyson, Browning, even Oscar Wilde. However, it was a little poem called “Two Sewing” that caught my eye. I love everything about this poem: the combination of the natural and the domestic, the subtle rhyme, the well-chosen phrases, the repetition that encodes the sound of rain on windows.

In other words, I’m delighted to have come across, quite by accident, Hazel Hall. I hadn’t heard of her before, but what I learned led me to order the edition of her collected poems that came out in 2000 (not to be had in our library system, alas).

Hazel Hall (1886-1924) used a wheelchair from childhood until her death, and she spent most of her adult life in Portland, Oregon (OSU Press is the publisher of her Collected Poems). She helped to support her family by working as a seamstress, an occupation that’s reflected in the metaphors of “Two Sewing.” You can read John Witte’s Introduction to the Collected Poems here; he writes,

Hall’s poems seem on their surfaces tidy, sometimes as strictly and gorgeously embellished as her needlework. Yet close under their surfaces we sense the seething of a restless intelligence. Beginning with the materials at hand–her limited mobility, her isolation and loneliness, her gifts with needlework and words, and her exquisite grief–Hazel Hall fashioned in the short span of her career a poetry of startling achievement and durability.

I can’t wait to read more.

You can read “Two Sewing” at Poets.org.

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