Saturday, June 9, 2012

"Weave the Tree of Life!"

Photo by Bill Fulton

In 2009, at the temple of Wat Xieng Thong in Laos, I wrote
Tiered roof 
like the sweeping boughs
of a great pine
Inside grace ever green
A voice whispers
"Weave the Tree of Life"

In a Luang Namtha village. my photo
I had been looking for weavers and finding such extraordinary craft woven by women  in remote Laotian villages, women weaving sacred symbols & sacred animals and small Buddhist spirits into Rothko-like hangings.  The weaving school we visited had handspun hand-dyed silk in colors I didn't know  you could get from plants, and the work had patterns that involved the skill of masters.

Living Crafts Weaving Center Luang Prabang Laos - Photo by Bill Fulton
     Wait. I forgot to mention that I am a weaver - even when I'm not actually weaving. I have a remarkable Dutch loom that I bought after I retired from teaching, thinking now Now! I will be able to continue what began in 1965, when I studied weaving  with Kay Sekimachi, (who would be a National Treasure if we had such a title.) I bought a small loom, and then I became a grad student and later a full-time prof, and I said "When I retire I will return to weaving. And I will write poetry." 
My Lou√ęt loom
      But I haven't been weaving. I set up and threaded the complex loom and began an experiment to weave tapestries using different size yarns without a rough line between colors and shapes - but the Muse stepped in. "Poetry" she whispered while I was reading the manual that came with the loom. "Poetry" she said aloud as I was threading it. "Poetry" she yelled perched on my laptop when I went to check my email. Hadn't I retired to write? she demanded. Portrait of the Inner Voice as a Nag! Finally she used her heaviest weapon - she sent me first lines and last lines in my dreams and during my morning walk. 
      The Muse accompanied me to Africa & India. She was perfectly willing to lend her voice to the goddesses and spirits I encountered. When I returned I was Writing Writing sending out poems for publication and Writing. I became a mentor at a high school (weave what you know into a new setting) but still Writing Writing. Seeing friends and arranging events. Always an activist. Always connecting to family. But mainly? Poetry.
     Write. Join a Writing Group of wonderful talented women.  Collaborate with Bill - his art/my words. Present our work. Weave our families together.  Write Write. Prepare a manuscript published by Fisher King Press & Read Read in public. Start writing a blog. Read Jung’s Red Book and write poems in response.  Write about a friend’s art.  Connect with a spiritual community. Join a Facebook community and learn an Amazing Amount. 
      Now I plan to go to the Congress of Women for Future Generation where a weaving of women will write a Bill of Rights for our descendants. I work on a book of poems by poets who write about Change write about Now about Connection. Write my own poems for this book and the Muse becomes Gaia  - Gaia becomes Muse.   
     Oh I know this may not be enough of an excuse. I know the voice said "Weave the Tree of Life" - but you know? I have been.