Monthly Archives: February 2013

Silk: Notes & Comments

I wrote this series, or long poem, while I was approaching the necessity of a divorce. I was engaged in much soul searching and deep thought, and immersed myself in music and reading that allowed me to explore the challenges nearest to my heart. As part of this I listened over and over to the Dawn Upshaw albums “The Girl with Orange Lips” and “White Moon: Songs to Morpheus.” It is that latter influence which is reflected strongly in this work.

1.
Bombyx Mori
The domestic silkworm moth

Mariposa de Bombyx mori

2.
Kaiko Yashinai-gusa
sericulture, silk farming, silkworm cultivation

Farmers' Lives in Twelve Months

3.
“Let me know some little joy
‘though I suffered long annoy.
Not contented with a thought
of an idle fancy wrought,
more than shadows or a sliding,
let my joys have some abiding.”

John Fletcher. 1579–1625. “Sleep.” In: Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900. http://www.bartleby.com/101/207.html

4.
“Oblivion soave
i dolci sentimenti.”

Claudio Monteverdi. “Arnalta’s Aria.” L’incoronazione di Poppea.

5.
“surge no infinito
a lua docemente,
Enfeitando a tarde
qual meiga donzela.”

Heitor Villa-Lobos. Bachianas Brasileiras #5, Aria (Cantilena).

6.
“Por el cielo va la luna con un niño … “

Federico García Lorca. Romance de la Luna, Luna, Luna.

George Crumb. Night of the Four Moons.

Adult Stage (Silk, Part Five)

The Lady Bombyx Mori Speaks of Kaiko Yashinai-gusa

V. Adult Stage (3 days)

Goddess of Silk, Lady Luna,
Mother of all the Bombyx clan,
your hair streams down like the moon mirrored
in sea-sung silence. How awesome your glow.

Furred now where I once was smooth,
thick-bodied, and skin creamy
with age, a transparency
now new to me in bright light
where I was opaque in youth.
Somehow this was not what I
expected, nor what I dreamt.
Now winged and flightless, sightless
but for richer perceptions
which need no eyes. And now, now,

I rely on another’s
perceptions, someone else’s
sensitivity to say
that my heart is no island
in infinity. The moon
rises, the tides also rise;
silently on the slight winds
scent says females like flowers
are opening, opening,
mysterious, obvious.

Goddess of Silk, Lady Luna,
Mother of all the Bombyx clan,
what fragile beauty we borrow from you,
we mortals who seek to love and be loved.

Silver lion with wings as dear
as my own, silver mane dark
with gray where I am lighter,
dear friend, say I am not strange,
not estranged, not a stranger.
I wait here, hopeful, scented,
here in the night and the leaves,
this brief waxing moon.
Demurely, my wings folded,
I am waiting here. Find me.

Unseen angels have hovered
near, sheltering, nurturing us,
to see that we are each found
not too soon nor too late. Now
dawning, twilight, night all thick,
all heavy with the scents of
before and after loving.
There is something more in this,
not just pungent or poignant,
loving at the end of life.

Goddess Lady Mother, thank you.

Written: January – February 2001.

Emergence (Silk, Part Four)

The Lady Bombyx Mori Speaks of Kaiko Yashinai-gusa

IV. Emergence (Moments)

Goddess of Silk, Lady Luna,
Mother of all the Bombyx clan.

Rising into forever —
“surge no infinito
a lua docemente,
Enfeitando a tarde
qual meiga donzela.”

Alone in you this small eternity,
is it time, is it time, is this the time?

If I leave this once sturdy
shell, now shattered and shredded,
will I know myself, or not?
If I emerge, shall I have
survived, I shall be virgin

still, pure, inviolable,
armored with pearls, luminous
and light, smiling the cryptic
half smile of women who know
and do not know of living?

Goddess of Silk, Lady, Mother,
how fearful your beauty was while I slept.

If I emerge, if I am
alive, shall I be virgin
all, calm as the morning star
followed close by the blazing
lion’s mane of the sun? When I

emerge, coming forth alive,
shall I be virgin again,
holding my moonchild’s dear hand,
whispering shyly, “Por el
cielo va la luna

con un niño … “ in his ear
while glancing elsewhere? Who then
will be standing before me,
before the sharp iris blade
of my silent singing gaze?

Moment after moment turned to prayer beads,
knot after twin knot. Where are your answers?

Written: January – February 2001.

Pupating (Silk, Part Three)

The Lady Bombyx Mori Speaks of Kaiko Yashinai-gusa

III. Pupating (15 days)

This is the time of dreams, if
I survive them. Vague, and kind,
they occlude the strange fever
of this, my transformation,
from direct observation;
these mind’s endorphins
eclipse the pain, the twisting
that companions reshaping,
this reformation of self,
unendurable awake.

“Oblivion soave
i dolci sentimenti.”

Dreams tell me what I cannot
yet bear to know about what
I am becoming, changes
unimagined. What drove me
to this necessary strength
and unsought intermezzo
of freedom and tenderness
of new skin, wings, belief?

Goddess of Silk, Lady Luna,
Mother of all the Bombyx clan,
it is your soprano song that shapes me,
your night and your dreams that arch over me.

Blindness of the heart and mind,
yet not total. The body
saw perhaps too much, and knew
the same, keeping awareness
just at arm’s length, still too near —
a smaller oblivion,
mist thinning in the sunlight,
dreams blurring the boundary
between dark and light. This night,
this long self-imposed twilight,

it was dreams that have torn loose
the grayed out past and revealed
a new future, possible
but never before conceived.
Nothing changed but memory,
and from that every new path
unwound, including the one
in which I become wholely
changed, unrecognizable
yet always familiar.

Goddess of Silk, Lady Luna,
Mother of all the Bombyx clan,
it is your shell, your sweetness, your
wings that hold me and keep me from breaking.

Likewise this clouded landscape,
newly fertile and hopeful,
with faith no longer fragile.
Slowly and transparently,
as dawn burns away the clouds,
these dreams lead me toward a trust,
a comfort unfamiliar
and yet recognizable.
I begin to realize
there is something more waiting.

Goddess Lady Mother, thank you.

Written: January – February 2001.

Cocooning (Silk, Part Two)

The Lady Bombyx Mori Speaks of Kaiko Yashinai-gusa

II. Coccooning (5 days)

How to escape from this world
that makes no sense anymore,
this tension that rests, then crests,
this inconvenient yearning.
Whether or not to endure
this circular existence
moving flatly aslant, not
forward. How can I question
or answer when I cannot
subside or settle? I can’t.

I am restless, shifting, tense;
I am my own discomfort.
Pearllike, what can smooth over
the irritant I am now?
To sleep, dream, bind myself tight
in a soft safe solitude
which may or may not endure,
may or may not transform. Oh,
to sleep, to sleep, to dream, but
will I ever wake again,

or will I smother in this
silent elasticity
which some call silken. Enough.
I do not realize this
decision was made
until after I am found
constrained, and am comforted
by constraint. Words of binding
spinning like threads from my mouth,
hardening into place as

they meet the air. My small mouth
opens, fog of sorts rising
from it like a sheer lake mist,
wrapping my body, numbing
and serene. I am a babe
swaddled against the flailing
of her developing nerves;
a mile of filament twines
me round. Ah, the surprising
places our mouths can lead us.

Goddess of Silk, Lady Luna,
Mother of all the Bombyx clan,
adored in dreams by we who hatch from eggs
only to crawl into another shell,

You are the greatest of us all,
we eggs and we shelled. Like us, You are first
whole, then broken, then hurt, then whole again.
Goddess Lady Mother, bless us.

Written: January – February 2001.

The Larval Stage (Silk, Part One)

The Lady Bombyx Mori Speaks of Kaiko Yashinai-gusa

I. The Larval Stage (30 days)

Goddess of Silk, Lady Luna,
Mother of all the Bombyx clan,
forgive me first my questions,
poor blind crawler that I am.

What hunger is this? I think
this might be hunger. Yearning,
all my yearnings have before
been hunger, been simple, been
a kind of quiet crying
out. And now I do not know.
I eat, nestling in the leaves;
I curl, wriggle, and eat more
to satisfy what should be
a simple need. Not enough.

This unsettled restlessness
is like and unlike hunger,
like and unlike the desires
I’ve known before. What is this?
I attempt from this strangeness
to fly in vain, lacking wings,
lacking the faith of the winged.
Whatever disharmony
drives me now, it is not one
I know how to remedy.

Goddess of Silk, Lady Luna,
Mother of all the Bombyx clan,
if it is your will, let me know the name
of what this is that now moves me.

Hunger, that is familiar.
The business of hunger
likewise has become common.
One hungers, one eats, then grows.
Growth is uncomfortable,
or becomes so, anyway.
Four times for me it was so;
growth led to a tight tension,
a pain of sorts: my own skin
did not fit me. I began

to panic, feeling smothered.
Without knowing what to do
skin that no longer fits, splits,
and I found myself crawling
forward, leaving behind what?
A part of me no longer.
I have become different
than the self I thought I knew,
changed in at least some small way
perhaps too small of a change.

Goddess of Silk, Lady Luna,
Mother of all the Bombyx clan,
if this incomprehensible movement,
this stretching, is to change me, so be it.

Four times this self-division.
I shed the skin of silence,
the skin of my parent’s house;
I shed the skin of violence,
the skin of the house of fear;
I sloughed off unfaithfulness,
shed the lonely house of lies;
shedding now skin of deceit,
the skin of the crowded house
clouded with chronic mistrust.

Is this enough? Is there more?
All I seem to do is eat,
grow, suffer, change, then repeat.
It seems a kind of music.
“Let me know some little joy
‘though I suffered long annoy.
Not contented with a thought
of an idle fancy wrought,
more than shadows or a sliding,
let my joys have some abiding.”

Goddess of Silk, Lady Luna,
Mother of all the Bombyx clan,
if I do not understand my own doubts,
my own questions, how can you answer me?

Written: January – February 2001.

The Bedroom (Dreamhouse)

I am the place where you are held,
temple of the tactile
and of touching.
At my heart, you are cupped
in a kernel of breath, breathing
the sweet scent of comfort,
of trust, of rest.
In later years, my walls
thin like skin, that cup of comfort
is mimicked with pillows
and the circle
of yourself, your own breath.
For now, the texture of language
dissolves into a lace
of images
and silent sensation,
a living lace picking apart
old memories like threads,
then reworks them —
tally, turn, twist, and link —
frugally, fondly, forever.