by John A. Ward
Today I pull on a green sweater. I don’t just slip it on over my head. I tug on an errant strand of its essence. I always find these loose threads and I can’t help myself. I have to give them a yank, but they don’t pull off. They start to unravel. Pretty soon, my sweater gets shorter and shorter. Eventually, it’s just a pile of yarn.
I wish I knew how to knit. Then I could repair them, but all I can do is roll the yarn into a ball. There are about five of us in the United States who do this. It has become a contest for the largest ball of yarn in the world. Not twine, that’s a different thing. We specialize in sweater wool. We allow polyester, too. Other people roll up tea bag string exclusively. They are to twiners and yarners as cabinet makers are to carpenters. Never call a tea-stringer a yarner. They’re very touchy about it.
For me, it began when my aunt knitted me a sweater with sleeves that were too long. I thought if I unraveled a little each day, I could get them to the right length. A knitter has to start or stop somewhere and the usual starting and stopping places are hems, collars and sleeve ends. I found the knot, undid it and was on my way.
By the time I got the wrists in the right place, I had so much loose yarn pushed up into the sleeves, I looked like Popeye. I was grotesquely disproportioned. I continued to the elbows. That wasn’t as bad. I had great biceps, but then macho guys tried to pick fights with me. I decided to keep going until I had a vest, but then I had huge boobs. The guys who tried to fight me before were hitting on me. Naturally, I had to continue pulling yarn until I had a tank top and a pot belly.
I finally decided to undo the whole thing and roll it up into a ball. It would have stopped there, but my aunt made me another sweater and I had to start all over again. I felt like Sisyphus.
John A. Ward was born on Staten Island, attended Wagner College in the early 60's, sold his first poem to Leatherneck magazine for $10, and became a biomedical scientist. He is now in San Antonio running, writing and living with his dance partner. He has published in Doorknobs & Bodypaint, Toasted Cheese, Green Tricycle, Apollo’s Lyre, Clockwise Cat, Alighted Ezine, Cenotaph Pocket Edition, The San Antonio Express-News, Antithesis Common, Wild Child, Idlewheel, Sentence, Sun Poetic Times, Byline, Quirk, ken*again, R-KV-R-Y, The Smoking Poet and Long Story Short. Links to his work can be found at http://email@example.com/dancfool.htm.