Ode to a Loom
I am not supposed to know the loom, nor the shuttle
sliding between two pieces of fabric
like light between Venetian blind slats.
I am not supposed to hear praise whisper
as I slide the shuttle to make what I see in my mind,
what my fingers see when pulling the fabric.
I am not supposed to feel my name mentioned
on the fabric that I spun from wool, spun so fine
like long silken hair, thinner than spider’s web.
I am not supposed to sit here, my feet on the pedal
to pull, tighten, snap the fabric together. I am not
what you expect. My hands slip like fabric, smooth
as light on a spider’s web, spun singing
from an orb spider. I am not supposed to hear that noise.
It’s the same as light rising through cloud-fabric,
leaf fiber, songs of merging of pieces into a whole,
all designed by imagination, guided by my hands.
No, I am not supposed to be performing this composition.
Someone declares this woman’s work. I enter the secret world
of making and stitching, shuttling words between fabric.
My hands know how to make from nothing, to create.
The wooden frame moves with snap and relapse, tug,
tighten, release. My hands speak “treadle,” “warp,” “weft.”
I am not supposed to shuttle these words, this thread I spun
on a spindle. All language flows like silk thread
between the slat of my fingers. The loom does not judge me.
It declares: snap fabric together. Make what you see.
I see the fabric of love, of merging, light rising over horizons,
flights of sparrows, songs of leaves whisking in wind.
I do this work slowly. I shuttle the opposite way,
carry the work through to the start, to why
I am not supposed to know the loom. The shuttle goes back
and forth, like day to night to day to finish to start.
I am not supposed to know this, not supposed to hear
the fabric singing: make me into something useful.
Sure. I will make you something useful, with purpose,
with intention, with attention to detail — see your emergence
like a newborn, like first birdsong, like world’s creation.
I am not supposed to know this. I am not supposed to do this work.
My hands ask why not. My imagination says I can, I will.
Editor’s Note: Repetition mirrors the movement of the loom’s shuttle, threading meaning and imagery through the warp and weft of this imagistic poem.
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