Antiques Roadshow: Marriage c. 1967

by Pamela Johnson Parker

Everywhere now, people are saving them — quilts, I mean. Americana, they say, the perfect history of a life, a woman’s life; but they’re wrong, as a quilt’s wrong, too carefully done, stored pristine among tissue paper layers, scented faintly with lavender, all appliquéd or pieced carefully up with the best scraps, dresses showy enough to take a sleeve and save it. A quilt says hope chest, says come make the bed, warm us up, says dowry, says wedding ring, says the halves shall be one… What’s right? Well, you won’t find them as part of anyone’s trousseau — rag rugs, that is; you find them in sheds, in boxes in barns, at the bottom of consignment bins, muddy, stiff with salt, with jagged peaks of mud poking up like meringue, underneath snarling like hair, an awful mess. But a rag rug’s right, nothing neat about it, an awful mass, made from a marl of stuff worn out, jackets and jerkins and pants; yes a rag rug’s right, it says twist twist and poke, says always underfoot, says eke out, make do, says wipe your feet carefully and enter with caution…


Pamela Johnson Parker is an MFA student and adjunct creative writing instructor at Murray State University in Kentucky. She blogs at Pamela's Musings.