Life as fabric—stay with me, this one’s pretty good.


Pattern

If my life is fabric, what’s the cloth?
Warp and woof, threads crossing,
and mine run lengthwise
from birth to death
The tangle a meaningless pile,
a skein without strength,
but for the cross-thread

Those who wound themselves
around and through my life,
pulling taut what lay in useless form,
mingling colors, the red of envy,
enlightened yellow, soft green
that speaks of inner peace
Moods, pale blue to black

Taking me up and laying me down,
re-worked and newly shaped
How many? Too many, not enough
Each face that waited patient years
to glance and turn away, walk on,
never speaking, and even so
their thread knotted in my own

Every banker that turned me down
and child that held me up
in too harsh a light to understand,
drew a thread across mine, a shuttle
cast back or forth, intricacy of pattern
in this ancient, newborn, weaver’s art
In a lifetime, a tapestry or shroud

There was a time I fooled myself
into forcing patterns, selecting colors,
as if such a thing were no more difficult
than a clansman’s noble pattern
Will I make of myself a MacKenzie
or a Tartan Plaid?
The foolishness of willful years, not yet gone

This may sound as though I’ve learned
something worth the passing on
If only it were so, something to teach
for god’s sake, worth learning
Some reason to write these words
that you might take away,
to work into the scheme of your design

Because you’ve brightened mine,
even in the darker colors
of misunderstanding
I can’t get back to look at it, my face
too pressed against the weaving
Wouldn’t recognize it anyway as mine
Whatever final pattern, your strand is there

Poetry Collection: The Smell of Tweed and Tobacco
This poem is included in
Jim Freeman’s
poetry collection

THE SMELL OF TWEED
AND TOBACCO

available here in print
or as an e-Book
in your favorite formats.