Saturday Poem

Addressing The Flaxen Spirit & Linen Women

—Addressing the flaxen spirit, not yet linen

Threshing

We come from deep loam,
from fields of green, blue heads bobbing.
To harvest true selves and loosen seeds within,
permit wind to winnow away the clutter.

Retting

To release fiber from stem,
baptize in slow-moving waters,
or even dew.
Do not over-ret, for, as with anything,
there is danger of growing weak,
and breaking.

After the retting

the scutching begins.
Baptism is never enough.
To transform woody selves
to strands of silky smooth,
press against the sharp edge
of life. Prepare to spin
with the moaning
earth.

Heckling

is the hardest part,
but it must be done—
we must separate
from our selves
to be spun into one.
Be still and comb
the heart, untangle
worry, part from grudges,
brush away the last stray
residues of this hardened
life we cling to.
Nothing to weigh us down,
readied now,
to be woven.

Linen women, with nod to St. Catherine of Alexandria, patron saint of seamstresses

We are made for summer. Stronger wet
than dry, as hot and humid descend, we
resist carpet beetles and fungus-fed men,
and, like Catherine, refuse to shrink
from the sun. We’ll remain cool before
emperors, call out their puckered thinking,
refuse to slip into their broken, biased,
stitching.

Let Spirit steam our hard
to reach places, round plackets
and pockets and buttoned collars. We
press into this wrinkled life and stretch.

Designed for the long or short trip—
no one knows which—we unpack
hand-stitched hats made to complement
each woman. Some of us boast floppy brims,
others trimmed with grosgrain ribbon, each style
crushable, able to roll and travel.

Despite hours of iron, we soon crumple.
Come forth, well-worn ones,
for the linen maker knows each crease
and calls us to the light, rumpled, woven.
.

by Jennifer Clark
from Ecotheo Review, 11/5/18

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