A Prose Poem by Anne R. Gibbons

Were they desirable because they were forbidden? Had they been
freely offered would we have turned away with a shrug? No thanks.
We’ll use the ones from the kitchen.

For a certainty the others—in bedroom, kitchen, study; the ones we
could use without fear of reprisal—they held no allure. The forbidden
pair tempted us from where they dwelt inside the satin-lined basket
with other accoutrements for patching and darning, hemming,
mending, and dressmaking.

The sewing scissors were not for cutting pictures out of McCall’s or
making colorful chains from construction paper. They were not to be
plied on paper napkins folded and refolded and refolded again into a
multilayer rectangle that my brother transformed into starbursts and
doilies, snowflakes and birds on the wing. They were not to be used
for curling ribbon on packages or trimming hair.

They were to be used for cutting cloth. That was all. Period. End of
discussion. The sewing scissors were for sewing projects. Fabric was
their medium and they were to have no truck with anything except
cloth. We had been admonished and scolded and fussed at more than
once about misuse of the sewing scissors.

Other scissors were not taboo. No objection was raised when they
were pressed into service. Scissors from bedroom, study, and kitchen
were fair game. We knew the rules.

But the sewing scissors beckoned. They crooned in their siren’s voice:
we’re right here . . . so close . . . reach out your hand . . . you only
want to trim one paper crown . . . just one crown . . .

Sometimes we succumbed to their blandishments.

Anne R. Gibbons grew up in the Deep South in an atypical southern family—they did not drink iced tea. Neither sweet nor unsweet. Adults drank coffee, children drank milk. Anne now lives in Vero Beach, Fla., with her husband, Bill Fitts, and their two cats, Amos and Luna. She still doesn’t drink iced tea.


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  1. Lovely. Your words brought me memories of my mother and her heavy old sewing scissors, I can hear the metallic sounds they made — crisp slice through the fabric then a satisfying clunk when she placed them back down on her sewing table. Of course I now have my own pair and frequently hear myself saying “Use the other scissors!”

  2. Thanks for the trip back to my childhood.

  3. In my case, it was the pinking shears. Irresistible. The ric-rac cut. Beautiful writing, Anne, and lovely presentation!

  4. There must be a school that all our mothers went to. Mine, in distant Montreal, Canada, said those very words. Lovely poem.

  5. This is really wonderful! Forbidden always beckons. It’s like sinful pleasure. Going against the ground rules seems like an adventure. Loved this. 🙂

  6. Anne, you are so talented and in so many ways. Congratulations on publishing this lovely poem.

  7. I don’t remember the scissors. My guilty pleasure was the cardboard that came from the laundry with my father’s shirts.I don’t remember what I did with them. I’m sure scissors must have been involved.

  8. Ah, yes. In my house, it was “the GOOD scissors” off limits. Do people sew any more? I take any mending to the lady at my cleaners. She has every color of thread and cheerfully does the job better than I can. Marilyn

  9. Excellent, Anne. Vivid. It draws me into your past.

  10. This poem is wonderful. It draws me into your history with great skill.

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