• Martin Willitts Jr

"Listening to a Handloom"


Wool speaks of being sheared and carded,

coaxed from the sheep.

I ‘d gather pokeweed berries, boil them

into blue dye,

let it dry,

spin the wool on a spindle.

The longitudinal warp held still

on a handloom’s frame.

The filling yarn was the woof

guided by a shuttle weaving in and out

like a guided hummingbird.

That shedding portion

creates space for the shuttle

to slip through, lifting,

tightening automatically

with the heddle main frame

working the old way,

weaving the story of sacrifice

of the sheep giving wool, and me

laying low on a hillside

with a single-bolt rifle

protecting them from predators.

I still hear the grass, wet against my face,

a bead of sweat as it trickled down

into my sighted-eye,

a wolf’s tail twitch.

Shuttle, shift, pop — weaving stories.

This is the work of hands, patterns zipping.

This story of my life is not over.

The snap-pull

of the loom makes the thread of light — soft

whisperings of wool

and work-sigh.

I have sown this story into the pokeweed night,

each star speaking the language of loom-snap.

Martin Willitts Jr has 24 chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 11 full-length collections including The Uncertain Lover (Dos Madres Press, 2018) and Home Coming Celebration (FutureCycle Press, 2019).


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