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Robert Butler

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Storyboards, Illustrations, Music Videos, London, UK

She was knitting on the Underground,

a few seats away to my right,

darkly reflected in the glass opposite.

But she was not.

I’m no expert, but I suppose knitting is like rowing

upstream with two oars;

she was crocheting, a one-paddle canoe,

hooking with a small plastic tool formed like a fish gaffe,

reeling out the yarn from the ball on her lap.

She rummages in the see-through belly of the air

like a miracle surgeon, manipulating and mending with a flourish,

tying things together to restore cause and effect.

Curious, I glance sideways at the young woman.

On her lap is a printed sheet from the internet,

an instructional page of crochet knots, loops, rows, chains, charts,

like glyphs and symbols transcribed from a temple wall,

apparently unfathomable.

It tells her

how to make a bedspread to warm a child,

a shawl to throw over a mother’s shoulders,

a braided cord strong enough to support

her son on that mountainside,

how to knot

how to close the spaces.

Her shifting fingers hold everything in

an intermediate stage,

a cat’s cradle of unassembled string,

the dashing flight patterns of swifts,

eventually a shape holding its shape by holding itself.

As we travel through the tunnels

I envisage after-images of her work hanging in the air

behind us

like the phosphorescent intestinal glow of deep sea creatures,

the ghost calcium of past states.

String Theory