Mariah Educates the Sensitive

Here's the poem that Suzanne read to me while I was spinning at her store in Bloomington over Memorial Day. I hope you like it as much as I do. I was delighted to discover, after she had read it to me, that I had actually met the author, and that she reads my blog!

Mariah Educates the Sensitive

In the first place,
you are not allergic to wool.
That lie is the bastard brat
of ignorance, overheating and vanity.
You may be allergic to cats,
angora rabbits,
dust, mold, pollen, the stings of bees,
bad dreams, the semen
of Rh negative men,
or, if you were an axe murderer
in a former existence,
strawberries. You could be reacting
to chemical dyes, the sulfuric acid
they soak wool in to carbonize the hay,
sheep dip so deeply lethal
it kills on contact, bad vibes
from an old cryptorchid ram, hysteria
or bad karma. But not wool.
Never wool.

Has it ever crossed your mind
that there are breeds,
that each breed extrudes
a different wool? You buy
a crappy, scratchy,
certainly Suffolk
sweater because you like
the pretty color,
then brag that you're too sensitive
to wear wool. What do you know
of Merino, Spanish wool so fine
it makes a grandmother's love
seem cold and harsh?
Men were beheaded
for smuggling these sheep.
You could spend a life
exploring the differences
between Icelandic and Churro,
Black Welsh Mountain,
Finn, Romney, Jacob, Corriedale,
Karakul, Cheviot, Shetland, Lincoln, Leister--
both Border and Blue Faced--
Coopworth, Cormo, Targhee, Wenslydale,
Herdwick, Swaledale,
Cotswold, God forbid,
Dorset, Tunis, Polworth, Rambouillet.
Then you could start on rare breeds.
Don't get me started.

Wool is the perfect fiber,
the only one
which insulates when wet.
Wet cotton, silk,
are out to save themselves, leaching
your body heat away.
Like us, wool breathes.
Unlike us, it's blessed with memory,
returns to its original shape when washed.

Wool is proof of a benign, personal God,
is grace, divine intervention at its best.
It's why sheep are mentioned in the Bible
more than any other animal.
I made that up,
but you believed me, proving
you've had your own suspicions
all along.

When mercury freezes,
hang your quilts on the wall.
Curl under wool.
Wool knows you're a mammal.
It's sympathetic, doesn't just conserve
body heat--it radiates it,
melting your bunched muscles
into something capable of sleep,
making sure your dreams
fill with green fields.

-- Susan Blackwell Ramsey

Poem first published in KnitLit (too). Susan (rams in blogland) gave me permission to post this to my blog. Thanks rams!
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