pattern 1972
The Pattern Clerk
by Nina Bennett

Full-time college student, part-time employee
in a fabric store. I worked the pattern counter.
Cabinets divided by company, Simplicity, McCall’s,
Butterick, Vogue. I searched for the design number,
rang the purchase on a cash register
that didn’t calculate change, entered the sale by hand
on an order sheet to restock the drawers.

Anticipated the arrival of the new season
style books, made sure I was scheduled
that weekend, went through them
like reading a novel. Browsed the fabric aisles
during my break, fingered velvets plush
as midnight, silk that flowed like a waterfall.
Fabrics I couldn’t afford, even with my discount.

Minimum wage was $1.60 an hour. I brought home
$20 a week, just enough in 1972 for groceries.

IMAGE: Vogue sewing pattern circa 1972.


Delaware native Nina Bennett is the author of Sound Effects (2013, Broadkill Press Key Poetry Series). Her poetry has been nominated for the Best of the Net, and has appeared or is forthcoming in publications that include Gargoyle, I-70 Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Bryant Literary Review, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Philadelphia Stories, and The Broadkill Review. Awards include 2014 Northern Liberties Review Poetry Prize, and second-place in poetry book category from the Delaware Press Association (2014). Nina is a founding member of the TransCanal Writers.