Ode to the Loom

Dear loom, dear box skeleton,
special ordered and
handcrafted from wood,
you rest on the floor
and wait for her
to sit down with you
and together weave
fabrics for weddings
between lovers and warriors,
the survivors, surviving.
Your sturdy frame
animates her as living
portrait, simple as the chain
on her glasses, the calm focus:
steady hands on the shuttle,
the weft and the warp,
feet on the treadle.
You obey the soft sheen
of turquoise, cherry, and gold
wrapped at the body’s waist,
your gift to the body,
hundreds of bodies for the new year,
for the blessings of ancestors.
Sweet loom, old friend of an old woman,
you are an ancestor she prays to,
so that when her hair falls
not as rain does
but as nails the evening hangs on,
and her hands slip no longer
from silk but on walls in the dark
hall to her room,
her daughters will sadly dismantle you,
remnant of a lost home, sacred language
coded inside her native language.
When she passes,
you will be stowed away
in the basement.
You will remind us of her,
you, loom, who have kept her company,
nonjudgmental witness to her secrets.
You will remember best
the way she works, the spots on her legs,
her bare toes peeking
from the edge of her sarong,
the slow motion of her hand
slapping flies in summertime
or the sound of gorges rushed
from her face in the quiet hours of the cloth
when she was depressed, she was depressed⏤
she pressed against you daily and wept.


Oh, that’s where my parents used to—Grandma cuts off her sentence, spins around and starts again, climbing the stairs towards us. “That’s where my parents put me during storms.”