She Who Knits in the Buddhist Monastery
by Tricia Knoll

Her bare toes nudge the barn floor
from her caned rocking chair.
Her fingers knit stripes, cables
of mantle and crust, riffs of watersheds
running down to ruffled-water blue binding.
Ribbed fabric slumps around her knotted calves
like lazy Vermont mountains.
I pass near her. I hear a hawk. A gong.
I respect silence. I did not come for preaching.

Rock and knit. Patience
stitch by stitch, inch by inch,
she binds up guardian green.

I am one apprentice, come to find my call
in hoe and loam, heirloom seed and pollen.
Others move beside me—basket weavers,
windmill makers, moss minders, modelers of fault zones,
river tenders, ocean keepers, and selvage menders.

Her needles slish against each other.
She tilts her head at my glass of cold water,
crosses the needles in her left hand,
and reaches with her right. I offer
my sweated glass, see a lifeline
on her palm.

First published in Peacock Journal.

PAINTING: Knitting Girl by Giovanni Segantini (1888).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a tribute to women in the environmental movement who have meant to much to me as role models for the kind of work I’ve done removing invasive species in forest habitat. In addition to Greta, Terry Tempest Williams is one of those women. In the poem, one mythic woman, the teacher, is doing the knitting as an example of how to heal the world one stitch at a time. Knitting is an act of pulling together something almost out of nothing. In this case, the fabric she is making is a healing of earth, a metaphorical remaking of planet. Note what is coming off her needles: guardian green, riffs of watersheds, crust and mantle, the ribbed fabric of mountains. Her apprentices have come to learn. To tend rivers, keep oceans, mend selvages. She does not preach; she shows by example. That is why I pay homage to the women in the environmental movement who are working so hard on this healing.

tricia knoll 1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet with strong leanings to collections of eco-poetry: Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press) highlights relationships between humans and wildlife in urban habitat; Ocean’s Laughter (Kelsay Books) looks at change over time in Manzanita, Oregon; Broadfork Farm (The Poetry Box) salutes creatures and people on a small organic farm in Trout Lake, Washington. Coming out in early 2023 from Future Cycle Press, One Bent Twig is a series of poems about trees, deforestration, and hugging trees. Visit her at