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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Poetry Friday – The Collected Works of Susan Ramsey

This one will probably be best appreciated by the knitters amongst you. 

Mariah Educates the Sensitive


In the first place,

you are not allergic to wool.

That lie is the bastard brat

of ignorance, overheating and vanity.

You may be allergic to cats,

angora rabbits,

dust, mold, pollen, the stings of bees,

bad dreams, the semen

of Rh negative men,

or, if you were an axe murderer

in a former existence,

strawberries.  You could be reacting

to chemical dyes, the sulfuric acid

they soak wool in to carbonize the hay,

sheep dip so deeply lethal

it kills on contact, bad vibes

from an old cryptorchid ram, hysteria

or bad karma.  But not wool.

Never wool.


Has it ever crossed your mind

that there are breeds,

that each breed extrudes

a different wool?  You buy

a crappy, scratchy,

certainly Suffolk

sweater because you like

the pretty color,

then brag that you’re too sensitive

to wear wool.  What do you know

of Merino, Spanish wool so fine

it makes a grandmother’s love

seem cold and harsh? 

Men were beheaded

for smuggling these sheep. 

You could spend a life

exploring the differences

between Icelandic and Churro,

Black Welsh Mountain,

Finn, Romney, Jacob, Corriedale,

Karakul, Cheviot, Shetland, Lincoln, Leister–

both Border and Blue Faced–

Coopworth, Cormo, Targhee, Wenslydale,

Herdwick, Swaledale,

Cotswold, God forbid,

Dorset, Tunis, Polworth, Rambouillet.

Then you could start on rare breeds.

Don’t get me started.


Wool is the perfect fiber,

the only one

which insulates when wet.

Wet cotton, silk,

are out to save themselves, leaching

your body heat away.

Like us, wool breathes.

Unlike us, it’s blessed with memory,

returns to its original shape when washed.


Wool is proof of a benign, personal God,

is grace, divine intervention at its best.

It’s why sheep are mentioned in the Bible

more than any other animal.

I made that up,

but you believed me, proving

you’ve had your own suspicions

all along.


When mercury freezes,

hang your quilts on the wall.

Curl under wool.

Wool knows you’re a mammal.

It’s sympathetic, doesn’t just conserve

body heat–it radiates it,

melting your bunched muscles

into something capable of sleep,

making sure your dreams

fill with green fields.

Rhino 2002

Yes, the author of this piece (my mother) knits.  And yes, she blogs about it sometimes.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Lovely. And educational.

  2. SHEILA RUTH says:

    I love it! Your mom is quite good. Thanks to you and your mom for sharing these.

  3. Faith Williams says:

    I love your mom’s poems. If she came out with a book, I would definitely buy it.

  4. Alkelda the Gleeful says:

    I love this poem. However, I do know people who break out when they have lanolin in close contact with their skin.

  5. lacy carra says:

    Betsy- I have always been a huge fan of you and your mom- congrats to you on the fabulous blog and to your mother on the poetry!

  6. Lacy, my girl! How the heck are you? I kept running into your parents last week. Shoot me an e-mail some time. If you don’t have my address it’s We must chat!