First of all, a huge THANK YOU to everyone who submitted an entry to UPK’s very first, Micro-Fiction contest! We had a great time reading through the entries, and it was incredibly difficult to select the grand-prize winner and runners up. But select we did!
Our entrants were asked to write an ekphrastic micro-fiction (300 words, or less!) piece of prose or poetry in response to one of two images:
3 Runners-Up will win 1 Kentucky fiction or poetry book of their choice published by the University Press of Kentucky, and 1 Grand Prize Winner will win a prize pack of 3 Kentucky fiction or poetry books published by the University Press of Kentucky.
And now, we present to you, the
Grand Prize Winner
Congratulations Patricia Holland of Paris, Kentucky, for her prose piece: “Threads!”
And, congratulations to our three runners-up:
Liz K. (“Thread Baring”)
Sarah H. (“Sewing Not”)
& Rich G. (“And Still You Sew On”)
My great-grandmother Nanny believed she could foretell the future by studying the clipped threads and bits of fabric that caught on the hem of her skirt whenever she made a new dress.
She taught me to sew and as I pedaled away on her treadle machine, she also taught me to respect her strange, Irish superstitions. To her, those stray threads found on my clothing had landed there to help her analysis my future. Different colored threads meant different things. Black did not mean death. Blank was the color of my true love’s hair. Threads in red, yellow, green or pink were fine unless they were from my wedding dress. My Nanny sang, “Married in red, you’ll wish you were dead/ Married in yellow, you’re ashamed of your fellow/Married in green, you’ll be ashamed to be seen/Married in pink, your spirit will sink/ But when you marry in white, you’ll find the love of your life.”
For a time after she taught me how to sew, I believed that stray threads really could show me a glimpse of my future. Do I still believe that those bits of colored thread have a mystical meaning and power? No, I don’t; but I still remember and treasure Nanny’s long-ago lessons. So as I sew up my white wedding gown and think about the pattern my life will take, I’ve taken a mare’s nest of tangled threads from the bottom drawer of Nanny’s sewing machine and made a small silk drawstring bag to hold them.
I do believe in traditions so I’ll make sure that on my wedding day I’ll have something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Nanny’s tangled threads are old, my dress is something new. My Irish lace veil will be borrowed and my garter will be blue.
Read the entries from our runners-up after the jump
By Liz K.
“Margaret ! ” he yelled, “Where is my chair !”
“Lord have Mercy, Woman. Do you have it by that sewing table again?”
Margaret thrust her needle into the small red pin cushion and began bracing herself for the long haul. There were miles of stitches to sew before Jacob’s suit would be finished. She reckoned that if the grey thread ran out, she could substitute it with the sky blue on the inside hem without much notice.
“But where was that extra thread?” Margaret lifted the compartment tray with its multitude of little rooms for various things and looked in the center section of the table. Riffling through the spools of black, rose, and royal purple thread, her hand brushed across a piece of paper. Pulling it into the light, she recognized Jacob’s hand writing.
the things unseen.
Like Mother and Father
in separate rooms.
Stitch them together
with the blood, red thread,
and sew an ivory button
across their hearts.
Close the lid on the mess inside.
-But that glass door –
It won’t hide, all the colorful pieces of you.
Lift the treasure into the air
on mahogany legs and sturdy trunk.
Set it apart for another day,
and sight unseen,
remember me – the very thread –
your hands have made.
Margaret returned the paper to its resting place among the yarn and walked to the living room where her husband of 15 years was immersed in the daily news.
“Let’s take a walk,” she said. “I was thinking we could go down to Johnston’s upholstery… and maybe invest in one of those fancy new recliners.”
Henry looked at his wife, blankly at first, and then with a smile asked, “Has Jacob been leaving you notes again?”
By Sarah H. (www.sarahhoskins.com)
I didn’t or should I say I don’t sew. I am old enough that we had sewing class in middle school. My failure at sewing began then, in 6th grade with a stuffed pink bear. I saved it all these years and gave it to my daughter. She thought it was a starfish.
My second attempt was in 8th grade in the 1970’s and a halter-top, essentially a triangle with strings. Somewhere there is a report card, hand written by Mrs. Sayre regarding my failures as a seamstress.
My grand-mother died when I was seven; she had an old sewing basket I loved to look at. I would open it up and play with the strawberry pincushion until I was scolded to put it back. She had a blanket chest filled with old quilts, a crazy quilt, cabin quilt and one in a special red and white pattern. Maybe I missed her genes or maybe I just missed out on those long ago skills or maybe I just miss her.
And Still You Sew On
By Rich G.
On good days, when you could muster the strength,
you found your way from your make shift hospital room,
to the paisley chair.
Next to the window with the white shutters,
a soft light, accented your pallid skin and weary eyes.
You wore your constant companion,
a velvety pink jacket,
with striped pajama bottoms to match.
Behind your head on the paisley chair lay a lap quilt,
courtesy of the Stitching Sisters,
given to you after the diagnosis.
It had sergeant pepper like butterflies,
fluttering about the flowers on the fabric.
That quilt gave you hope,
that those who had made it, may have survived the same disease,
and when able,
you sewed a quilt for another.
You removed the lid to the Girl Scout tin
with the label “Make new FRIENDS” on the top.
If you read it, you may have wondered,
is there time?
was the keeper of the marble colored, magnetic scissors,
the number nine thimble,
the seam ripper,
spools of thread,
and a green felt wallet that safely held your needles,
and kept them from pricking your fragile hands,
with the discolored brittle nails,
that would eventually break and fall off.
I studied you closely from across the room.
This was my job, to watch and worry.
But I was comforted that you sewed on.
You pieced together a quilt,
fixed hemlines on pants,
and made felt Christmas ornaments
for family and friends.
You stitched, snipped, and sewed.
And found a way,
with chemically impaired eyesight,
to take aim with the thread,
and hit the eye of the needle.
Today, the hospital room is an office,
your stunning white crown is restored,
the nails have hardened,
and the eyes see clearly.
And still you sew on.