Monday, November 30, 2009

Creativity in Action

A Confederacy of Women

If you walk up the stairs of the great old barn,
you enter the loft where the looms are stored.
The wood-planked space is filled with looms,
with spinning wheels, a room of women.

Some of the ancient looms resemble racks
to which someone could be strapped and
forced to tell the truth. Some are ready
with warp and weft to be woven into cloth.

Upon the spinning wheels you might expect
to see the women of fairy tales, spinning for
their lives or for malice of others. Prick
your finger and blood will rise up, so near

sigh the tales of women past. Though women
at this moment sit with spindles in their hands,
those who came before are present tangibly
in spirits of such strength, you may feel them

in the wood, the ancient wood hewn at the
dawn of time, or nearly. You may feel their pulses
faintly in the cells of wood worn comfortably
to fit the feminine form. Lean your forehead against

an upright of the oldest loom and close your eyes.
See them, all of them who went before, with
lean, strong fingers weaving, weaving, weaving
shrouds for babies, shrouds for men, shrouds

for mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, shrouds
long gone with the bones to dust. The women
bend slightly, firmly over the work of their
hands, weaving goods to fill their lives:

wedding gowns, diapers, menstrual cloths,
the sacred relics of womanhood, woven
on these looms like wombs sheltering the
confederacy of women still to come.

The weavers society in our rural neck of the woods hold their annual sale this time of year. You’ll find spun cloth, woven clothing, scarves of every color. You’ll find tapestries of artistic quality, and it is all held in a renovated barn. Last year I bought scarves woven of silk thread spun with fingers knarled with arthritis to give as gifts, and beautiful cloths in luscious colors. I bought myself two hats of hand-spun yarn, and I’m in love with them.

What struck me most profoundly was not the beauty of the weaving but the upstairs looms, spindles, spinning wheels, many so old their wood shone. One loom was made when Dolly Madison was lady of the White House, and used continually since. Its wood was dark with age and well worn by the backsides and hands of women long gone.

It marvels me that we return to crafts long performed by women down the ages. Some of the weavers were elderly, and many were my age and younger.

Poets have scribbled ink on papyrus and parchment through the millenniums for the compulsion to capture human experience. Artists have drawn in caves.

It seems the human family is compelled to create beauty, not just utilitarian tools. I take heart in this. There is an indomitable spirit in the human being. We’re not just warmongers and capitalists and listless souls. We are people of art and craftsmanship as well. Thank God.
Photo courtesy maidensmemoirs


Anonymous said...

Wow, interesting reading... I have always had an admiration for the women of vintage times. I agree that we strive to be creative, to use our capabilities not only for productive work, but also for creative outlet... something we take pride in as well. Have a great day, Chris :)

Shadow said...

everyone is a creator. the mediums differ, as do the end results, but the heart is all the same... beautiful poem chris!

Scott said...

thank God for art and craftsmanship.. I crave such things in a world soaked in commercial mass produced stuff...

I visited some old friends in their new home near where ym parents live in Toledo. The recently moved up from N Carolina, they've been friends of my mom since before i was born. I walked into their "new home" and there it sat...

the giant spinning wheel I remember seeing as a kid all those long years ago. I was floored by all the memories that came flooding back to me. It's remarkable how much meaning can be attached to an object.

Brian Miller said...

when i first moved away after college, i boarded in an upstairs room of a weaver...her machine was massive...every once in a while i would stand in the kitchen and watch through the doorway...amazing. and we are creative beings, i think sometimes it is when we are most alive...

sarah said...

Ilove the history of all this. Amazing to me to think about the women spinning....weaving...creating. Have a great and awesome day. Sarah

big Jenn said...

I love the depth with which you view the world. I can always hear you, which gives me so much hope that yes I can move into the next part of my life, and it will be OK. jeNN

Dianne said...

Your words are such rich works of art and craft, you weave the world for us, I am grateful for you.

This line moves me the most: " You may feel their pulses
faintly in the cells of wood worn comfortably
to fit the feminine form. Lean your forehead against

an upright of the oldest loom and close your eyes.
See them, all of them who went before,"
Have a mellow week and a mindful and present Weds in particular.

Tall Kay said...

I find this fasinating. I had no idea that looms were still used. It looks like fun and something I would love to learn to do. What a beautiful tribute to women.

Lou said...

Handmade gifts are the best. I'm a klutz myself, but I love getting any kind of personal gift.

Your last paragraph is so beautiful. I also believe in the indomitable spirit. You have been given a great talent in your writing.

Julie said...

This is awesome! I love the poem, and the details in the last stanza are fantastic. "A Confederacy of Women" is also a wonderful title. I know these women, and I'm always amazed by their strength. In my culture, these matriarchs ran the show:) You have portrayed that strength and creativity so beautifully.

~ Tabitha ~ said...

LOVE this post,Enchanted and it's just what I needed to read to kick start my creative energy today.
Thanks for the inspiration :)

Akannie said...

Beautiful! makes me want to get my rug loom out of storage. I love your way with words, Chris, and this is beautiful. When I was in NC I saw some of the most magnificent weavers...

Ah, beauty. Ah, art.

Gabriella Moonlight said...

This is great...I love this perception of how we manage to share our lives with others, how women especially seem to have their own manners of communication.

Thank you as always for your loving perceptions!

Syd said...

I have several old woven Jaquard blankets that have been in the family for years. They are priceless to me.

Prayer Girl said...

This post is enchanting to me. I loved your words. It made me feel a part of the women before me from the beginning of time.

I have always been thankful I was born a woman.