The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Almonds are Members of the Peach Family by Stephanie Sauer

This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from Almonds are Members of the Peach Family by Stephanie Sauer, released by Noemi Press in 2019. 
A black and white image of an instruction sheet for a 4-H Clothing Project including materials you need to bring to each meeting (e.g. sewing needles, pins, etc.) and options for projects that may be chosen throughout the year. Also includes several small images, like a thimble and a heart.

[August 2013, Rio de Janiero]

Stitching on the machine opens memory: sewing my own clothes after my mother packed up my belongings without notice and left them and me to save her marriage. Halter tops, altered jeans, satch- els. The Offspring playing. I pieced together fabrics then as a way to comfort myself, to call back into my body the moments I loved most with her: making things. Those hours of focus that opened out the universe in unspeakable ways. The wonder of holding up a finished piece, evidence of that other world. It was not just the awe of being able to make anything on our own, but the envelopment in a world that felt more real, more alive than this one. I came back to this world with magic in my palms.

She attempted sutures: gifts stitched by hand, I love yous. I stopped trusting the words by the time I turned fourteen.

Now sewing brings the pain back, eases it. It reveals holes in my own loving. I held tight to a divine plan narrative to survive that raw pain, told myself it was an experience I needed, one that pushed me to leave the hills. And while today I doubt this story, I can’t help but think I might have been onto something. I loved that rural life. I loved that quiet making, even the practicality of it. I may well have settled early, too, into a life that wasn’t quite mine. Maybe the leaving was necessary. But living has a way of bending you until you doubt every rigid narrative you’ve ever held about yourself. So maybe the story I crafted was true. But maybe, too, I have just done the best I could do and this body that stitches shows its pain too plainly.

Stephanie Sauer was raised in Rough and Ready, California (a real town), where she learned to sew and make art in 4-H on her way to becoming a member of the FFA. She instead fled to Chicago to earn her MFA, co-founded an in-translation press (A Bolha Editora) in Brazil with her wife, and authored Almonds Are Members of the Peach Family (Noemi Press) and The Accidental Archives of the Royal Chicano Air Force (University of Texas Press). You can find her other writings and book work in Pleiades, Gulf Coast, Drunken Boat, Asymptote, Lavender Review, So to Speak, and Another Chicago Magazine. She currently serves on the faculty of Stetson University’s MFA of the Americas program (also real) and directs Lolmĕn Publications for the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. 

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