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To Be of Use-A Handweaver’s Reflection

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To Be of Use-A Handweaver’s Reflection

June 17, 2009

by Jane Patrick

I’m a do-er and it seems to me that most weavers and spinners–craftspeople–are do-ers, too. We take charge; we get things done. We are involved in the world.

The act of weaving over and under, back and forth is simple. Pick by pick the weaving evolves, as does a pot in a potters hand. The rug or runner or wrap is of use–and is real.

Below is a poem my sister shared with me. It speaks of from which I come and how I as a handweaver am a part of the world.

To Be of Use
by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

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