Catherine Fahey

Gold as Straw

It starts with sheep. Prosaic, 
unmagical sheep. Shearing, 
washing fleeces. Picking
out shit and grease and plants, saving
whatever wool is left. Spend
winter carding, combing. Thinking
think there is nothing else. 

Walking back and forth
at the great wheel, spinning
fluff into form, wearing
a trough in the ground. Knowing
exactly how saints are broken by wheels. 

Spinning done between
other chores: cooking, washing, feeding, growing. 
Unskilled work, it’s easy
to scratch your hand
on the great iron spindle, get sepsis, die. 

Spinning, dyeing, weaving, knitting, fulling, sewing, fitting, mending, rags. 
Hands are a channel for thread.  
My shuttle doesn’t fly, just falls.
My needle won’t guide a prince to my door. 

It’s never enough for my father.
It’s never enough for my husband. 
It’s never enough for him. 

You, listening
                       to my stories, 
Do you even ask my name?

Catherine Fahey is a poet and librarian from Salem, Massachusetts. She is the former Managing Editor and Poetry Co-Editor of Soundings East. When she’s not reading and writing, she’s knitting or dancing. You can read more of her work at