Wednesday, May 3, 2017

ghost blanket

You gave me a friendship blanket:

it is beautiful.

You didn't spin the wool yourself

or steep it in earth dyes

which you had crushed with a stone

to blood red, nut brown.

You didn't make a loom from branches

weighted down with pebbles.

Dew didn't seep into it;

it wasn't rinsed in a stream

and laid out in the sun to dry.

It doesn't smell of you and isn't pungent

with the smoke from your fires.

You didn't think of me,

dream dreams of me, as you wove it

your fingers chapped and numb.

Your ancestors didn't blow through it

as it hung, misting their breath into yours.

The pattern doesn't reveal

anything about your people;

there are no stories pricked in with the stitches

no clues to hunting grounds or homes.

You gave me a friendship blanket

in the airport departure hall

and you turned into a bird.

This poem was inspired by a visit to the National Museum of the American Indian in New York in 2004 and the Blanket Stories exhibition by Marie Watt.

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