Knitting, by Patrick Holloway
We dress you in the clothes your great grandmother knitted for you years before your mother even met me.
I wanted to know when.
I wanted to know what I was doing at the moment a woman across the world was knitting for my unborn child. She said it was over twenty years ago.
I was a boy. Hurting for my father. Trying to make words fit
into the hollow of my throat.
The clothes, silvery white, were kept in a box with cedar balls.
When I drove too close to the edge of the cliff they were in darkness, waiting. When the dawn was too distant. The length of December’s fingers too long.
I imagine her taking the box out and checking the clothes, lifting them to the light, picturing the thick, kicking legs that would fill them. The colour of your eyes. Her hands, smoothing the creases, slowly pushing the lid shut.
Did she give you a name?
I see her hands fastening the needles, the tit, the tat as they click out new patterns. She sings in another tongue. All those years left to live, but knitting, just in case.
She is the first person we tell. Her smile swallows her eyes. She puts her hand on your mother’s belly and looks up to the sky. Espera, espera, she says and shuffles into the other room, returning with a floral box.
When I locked the bathroom door and rattled each vial empty.
When I ran the bath. When I waited. They were waiting like a moon.
When I woke up in the hospital. When I realised I was alive and screamed and screamed.
All those nights. You existed before I ever knew. She made you real. Knitted a bridge between us. Stitched me to this moment that she isn’t here to see.
Your mouth opens and I observe the raw pink flesh of your gums. Your face is shaped like hers and when you smile, your eyes too disappear.
The knitted cardigan gathers at your chest and I pull it down, creasing it straight.
The touch soft and heavy.
Patrick Holloway is the 2021 winner of the Allingham Fiction Prize, The Molly Keane Creative Writing Prize, and the Flash 500 prize. His work has appeared in The Stinging Fly, Southword, The Moth, The Irish Times, among others. He’s an editor for the new print literary journal The Four Faced Liar.