Teresa Scollon, Issue 16.2

Corduroy Quilt

“Language is a skin…I rub my skin against your skin.”

– Roland Barthes


We have our ways

of fitting together. Peg and groove.

Mortise and tenon. Tender.

Sleeping, we wrap our bones

in another’s arms, the warm

ridges of corduroy. Topography

of relation. Heat. Nap.

Valleys between

ridgelines. Each of us a new

whorled. Fingerprints, our ridges,

our badges. Marked. Marking.


It’s not always easy.

For example, the hand—spike

of the finger or the raised club

of a fist. Hackles. Bared teeth.

Even eyelashes are tiny

spines. Ribs’ rigging,

braided hair. Lock. Unlock.


To corduroy is to form

a road or the like by laying logs

transversely. As a road over

swampy ground. The ground

between us. Whole cloth.


Or holed cloth. Pieces,

punctures, the wounds needling

makes, the effort required

to poke through, stitch together.

Sore thumb and steel

thimble, helmet on the tender

finger ends. Will. See it



The existentialists said

no right nor wrong, only choices.

This block or that one. Red

for heart. Brown for earth. Black

for where we came from, where

we’re going. Blue for the big

sky. Blue.


The eye moves in,

moves out. Close up the eyes

close. Inside the eyeball, tiny

peaks peek, activate. Even

inside, texture. In other words,


nothing nothing nothing,

is a smooth sea. Deep down,

coral: the calcified palace

of domesticity. How we think

this is it, this will always be it.

Until you scrape your skin

on the bottom, and if a sudden

wave pins you down. Well,

then. Beware


words, with their cavities

and chasms never kissed by sun,

or the foggy hills of ambiguity.

But then we speak

about love. Rope bridges, spider

webs spun out of miraculous

fiber. Honey pouring out of pores.


Light falls on this gold—

grain ready for harvest. Yellow dog

snoozing in the sun. Dogs don’t worry

about any of this, sleep on the bed

no matter what you say. So many

words but no word for this color.

Only hum: amber, camel, caramel.




This poem was written in response to a piece of textile art by Susan Wild Barnard,

and presented at the Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts in March 2012.


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