this fabric woven and sewn...

from my anthology of must read (a)merican poems

Nancy White

Woven and Sewn

You are no virgin, listen. You must stop here.
Sit on the curb and look like a bum.
Hold still until you feel it, too.
There is a no rising in you like green sap like power.
Do not drill into your side. The world is not asking for this.
You are meant to stream upward. No compromise only pause.
Sit in the dirt of the road until you see.
If it takes years it takes years.
This will cost less than the life you would drain from your side.
If you are hungry sleepless cold it is nothing to the other
There is no such have to that lie.
We once told it too. Don't be ashamed.
You are part of this fabric woven and sewn.
But not this what you contemplate willingly today.
You may hate us for these words. It passes.
Believe you are the one in danger. Sit down.

                      - from New Letters and Verse Daily


“Sit in the dirt of the road until you see.” – Oh, yes. True writing is lonely business. It flourishes in isolation, and tends to disappear in the spotlight ... shapeshifting to and with the voices around it. Sometimes there is too much noise in the world, and the truth goes away, puts on a mask. This recent poem by Nancy White, author of Sun, Moon, Salt (Word Works, 1992), urges us to stop, to listen.

A collective unconscious does resonate in “You may hate us for these words,” near the concluding lines. The central question in the poem is twofold: into what fabric are we “woven and sewn” and who does the weaving, the sewing. When I read these lines, I want to move beyond the self. The I becomes the fabric – or at least a part of the fabric. “Hold still,” White writes, “until you feel it too.” The current of poetry that surrounds us. We’ve been there. We’re no virgins.

I have no doubt that “until you see” must, however, transcend my simple reading of the poem. That is such a large notion. It may take years to see the rest of one’s life – all the possibilities. There may be hunger, sleeplessness, cold – and here the poet intends the states of the soul or the creative self. The alternative? A suffering that is the loss of that “life you would drain from your side”. The life you would let go of or not attain at all. One certain danger – allowing that life to slip away.

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