Wool House

by John Van Pelt

For Marsh

I live in a wool house.
I breathe in.
A wool house!

The day started at dawn,
when the sheep
contrived to open their paddock gate.
We knew what to do, there was
no panic. It was just funny,
herding the littlest ones
out of the lushest weeds, the picture
we presented: arms, pajamas, 
muck boots, everything
flapping in the slant light.

My partner, my goodwife, my helpmeet,
is the spinster.

I built her studio (we joke,
truly, it’s a woman-cave)
out of studs and wallboard, but
it’s become something beyond This Old House,
beyond Euclid,
beyond even Einstein,
fringy poofy twisting fibrous,
spindles and bobbins on hooks, 
cinnamon buns nestled
in bins, baskets of locks and 
lumpy tests, her chain-ply 
as I pass through,
then everything resumes
with lengthening momentum.
Space changes.
Time changes.

Shearing occurs annually,
and after–for years after, so yes, 
this is a word problem about
when a wool house is done with wool,
and the answer is never
–after shearing,
there’s skirting, airing, scouring, drying, fingering, exclaiming, combing, carding, drafting, spinning, plying–

Wool courses through the house
a fog in every shade of gray
whispering in its wooly dialect
rolag niddy-noddy twist slub mordant.

Our rooms smell of lanolin and vinegar, 
fans pull humid air through 
hanks of named fleece–that’s
Angelique, or trusty Marvel,
or ahh, more Molly!

Days pass to the 
tick-tock of spinning wheels,
the thump of treadles,
a beeping microwave, the
tang of dye and steam

and night falls. 
The sheep abide.
In the lee of a tablet–
Buffy, or Castle, or something on Audible 
about the intelligence of birds–
my other half weaves ply to ply,
crochet it’s called, the hook,
the cross, a connotation
of shepherding
and of divinity.

Banderoles unfurl,
squares multiply,
galaxies of textile spiral
out of her lap–
a hat, perhaps. 
Something to wear
when it’s cold
and Molly’s lamb is due.

I live in a wool house.

photo credit: Giulia Bertelli