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Transcendental Etude

Posted by lucindaquilts on May 5, 2009 at 11:57 PM

from "Transcendental Etude" by Adrienne Cecile Rich

[The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems Selected and New 1950-1984 (New York: Norton, 1984), p.264]

-- For Michelle Cliff

Vision begins to happen in such a life

as if a woman quietly walked away

from the argument and jargon in a room

and sitting down in the kitchen, began turning in her lap

bits of yarn, calico and velvet scraps,

laying them out absently on the scrubbed boards

in the lamplight, with small rainbow- colored shells

sent in cotton-wool from somewhere far away

and skeins of milkweed from the nearest meadow --

original domestic silk, the finest findings ---

and the darkblue petal of the petunia,

and the dry darkbrown face of seaweed;

not forgotten either, the shed silver

whisker of the cat,

the spiral of paper-wasp-nest curling

beside the finch's yellow feather.

Such a composition has nothing to do with eternity,

the striving for greatness, brilliance?

only with the musing of a mind

one with her body, experienced fingers quietly pushing

dark against bright; silk against roughness,

putting the tenets of a life together

with no mere will to mastery,

only care for the many-lived, unending

forms in which she finds herself,

becoming now the sherd of broken glass

slicing light in a corner, dangerous

to flesh, now the plentiful, soft leaf

that wrapped round the throbbing finger, soothes the wound;

and now the stone foundation, rockshelf further

forming underneath everything that grows.

 

                          (1977)

 


 

Categories: textiles

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