"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,
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.
of the loom makes the thread of light — soft
whisperings of wool
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).