The Sewing Machine

A little while ago mum came to New Zealand to visit me,

While she was here,

She hand-washed all my clothes,

that I have been washing with washing machines over the years

Some white t-shirts, which already show discoloration,

After her hand wash,

Look like new ones again.


I argued with her

I think for the first time she has a chance to go outside her own country,

She should spend more time playing outside,

Instead she was often in my dorm room,

Helping me organize stuff, cleaning and cooking.


Finally it’s time to leave for home.

I still clearly remember the night before she left.

It was around 10 in the night and she was washing the quilt for me,

And suddenly found my quilt does not match the size of its cover perfectly,

She said: “you won’t  be comfortable sleeping in these!”

Then she took out a needle and thread,

And started sewing the quilt cover.

I told her to stop and go to sleep, “ you have a long flight tomorrow!”

She replied with a tired smile “I’m not sleepy; I will sleep on the plane!”

And so she bent down and continued to sew.


It’s been over half a year now,

But the picture of her sewing that night

Is clearly engraved in my mind

The little narrow dorm room,

The dim yellow light,

Mom with her glasses,

Sitting cross-legged on the bed,

With her body leaning forward,

Occasionally lipping the needle and

With her powerful and rough hands,

Carefully pushing the thread through the needle,

I sit aside facing her back,

Silently looking at the shuttle moving smoothly between her rough hands,

My eyes felt wet.

Mum’s back, is like a sewing machine.

Over twenty years,

Keeps mending my rebellion and naughtiness.


Mum’s wrinkles are the debt I will never be able to repay

Mum’s back is the landscape that cannot be relieved.


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