DONALD RAWLEY

Blind Stitch

There were women meant
to close their eyes for good.
I can feel it in silk.
How light has its own emotion.

It is the blind stitch 
of yin and yang,
Shanghai factories
and scarred palms.
Fingers with claw thimbles.

My mother collected these silks
and explained their complexities.

That they are outlawed
like chipped ivory necklace
she still keeps.

This I learned
was the luxury of pain.
I saw it in dusty junk
bought in Phoenix
in the sixties;

rosewood chairs with burst seats,
black lacquer bowls
of dragons twisting
through a lake of cheap gold.

It is the voyage passing
in an opiate of dark beds
behind jade screens,
the place we go to
for forgetfulness.

Here daylight is a baroque gauze
and silence is an answer.

I opened scrolls
of men high
in gnarled clouds,
drove with my mother
south of town
where Chinese fields
of stock narcissus hidden
by walls of oleander
swayed in irrigation
like silk stretched in the desert.
Almost yellow in the sun,
these narcissus created
a summer whorehouse stink.

I learned all lines
bend to touch the sky,
colors are wealth
and the exquisite
is never lost;
like ivory chrysanthemums
falling on yellow shantung,
where women kept stitching
tiny, crying metal beads
until their blindness sang.

 

Duende 1994, Black Tie Press. All rights reserved.

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