The Slow-Cooked Sentence

When is the effort the gift?

Rachael Conlin Levy


I had good intentions, but was preoccupied. I knitted while volunteering at church — and forgot the booties there for a week. I knitted at baseball games — and neglected to switch out the yarn. Here’s the second set of baby booties frogged — Rip it! Rip it! — in a month. This is backward progression, and by the time the booties are mailed they won’t fit the baby, but his doll.


I tried, small nephew, but effort alone is my gift. Strange, I think, how easy it is to loosen what binds me and move on. It’s not this way with other parts of my life: Intention is never enough. As a woman, I cannot forgive the soft aging of my flesh. With my writing, oh, no: The short story is flat, the essay a disappointment, the blog post is, well, blah. And as a mother, I am equally demanding of chores and grades and manners. Trying has become tiresome and tormented, something one should do, ought to do, but no longer wants to do.


Imagine pulling the lines of prose off the page and winding them up like I do yarn. A ball of words. Tongue-tied. Peel away the ill-suited sentences, and leave the page clean and empty, the white surface no longer muddied by ink, but crisp with potential. The storyteller begins again. Wake to a day where a woman appreciates her imperfections, and a mother can thank the effort and overlook the outcome, and I say, there is love for both self and others there.

4 responses to “When is the effort the gift?”

  1. kyndale says:

    Definitely the effort/thought is part of the gift. Or it should be. Too many times I’ve been short of time and gotten a gift card for a thank you or birthday. I feel so shameful that I didn’t really put enough into it. That’s what it’s come down to these days. Gift cards, blah! I think the booties are lovely. ♥ Go Rachael!

  2. Andrea says:

    Lovely. I so often wish writing could be something solid and tactile and real–like yarn that can be unraveled and knitted again–rather than amorphous abstract thought-motes. But it’s true, no one is going to appreciate effort without results except ourselves.

  3. But they look so damn cute… Oh well, maybe you’ll have to buy some booties this year and start knitting a birthday gift for next year 😉

    Forgiveness is extremely complicated. It is an ongoing struggle for me, in so many areas. But I don’t suppose we should ever give up.

  4. Molly says:

    They are beautiful and I love them even from afar… Ennis will know that his aunt loves him. And we love you rach!

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