Today, Abrha is our bartender. For his poetics, he wants us to look at art – the ancient art or old art and how it inspires us. He wants us to write about art in other parts of the world or local art – to write about how it was inspired, created and lives still.
I have chosen to write, not about grand monuments or works of stone or painted ceilings; my main focus is the works of art created by women – often overlooked. In my part of the country, there are many folk museums with examples of quilts, lace, hand loomed cloth as well as carved wooden utensils or handforged metal items. Many of these items were born of necessity and frugality but still, the colors and spirits of those who made them come through.
My mother, before she became crippled by arthritis and Parkinson’s, was quite a hand quilter – taught by her grandmother. My grandmother made beautiful tatted lace. I was never able to learn not being talented in that way. So my poem is about the folk art, the things of every day made beautiful with the patina of age or looking forward to the future with hope.
The Forgotten Artist
1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God.The skies display his craftsmanship…Psalm 19:1
she was born into a family of ordinary people –
ordinary people who created simple things that lasted for generations:
the quilt she slept under as a baby made by her grandmother,
the stone wall made with no mortar
standing strong, the raw colors of the stones
softening with the tones of earth, rain, lichens moss.
the garden of flowers and herbs, brought to the new world
in the form of slips, roots seeds –
they bloomed year after year after year.
a living changing canvas of color.
on a shady side porch, when she was a wee thing
her grandmother placed blocks of colored cloth in her hands
and taught her how to sew them together.
she liked the flower garden and arranged the blocks to look like the garden.
and later she was taught how to sew designs on the blocks,
one small stitch at a time.
and later still, her grandmother with cheeks soft as
delicate rose petals put a needle in her hand and taught her
how to draw the thread and knot and weave –
she looked at the stars in the night sky
wondering and dreaming and with the thread
copied them and the stars were sewn in later years
On the linen handkerchief she carried as a bride.
solid blocks of color became patterns – stars:
Southern star, lone star, shooting star –
her first child slept under a quilt of autumn colored stars –
pieced and stitched as he slept inside her.
and many many years later
she sat on the shady porch painfully moving the needle
and gathering the string – tiny lace stars for the
christening gown of her first great grandchild – a girl.
one more inch.
the last star finished and tied off.
and then, with a deep sigh
she fell asleep, smiling.