Monday, February 01, 2010

quilts pieces—

in Gee’s Bend they put the time in
but what they make
are they obligated to make it?
when it don’t make them no money
I don’t know

but you can’t make
what they make.
I can’t either
and the world feels them
all different countries feel the tops—
they’re not supposed to unless
they’re buying
they’re not to dirty
three quilts Loretta fashioned
from the same batch of men’s clothing scraps
says the curator—
it started in the ‘60s and without the women
there’s no quilts
to cover the batting
to match the backs to.

do they even need quilts in Alabama?
would you feel cheated should they farm

The women consider the process
of piecing the quilt top
highly personal.
In Gee’s Bend
the top side faces up on the bed,
is always pieced by a quilter working alone,
and reflects a singular artistic vision.
quilting the quilt together—
the completed
top, the batting, the back—
is sometimes performed
among small groups of women.

The Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective sells
the internationally acclaimed artists
from this Alabama community.

then there was from within me
a cheer and rancor both
not understood—
something wildly piebald—
when there were no prices
no ways to buy
and the site was four years old
still under construction in 2010.

so much,
something in my face feels
like everywhere
has the same feelings
as me sometimes,
something cold in my chest
up my throat
in my eyes.
My sister-in-law’s daughter
sent those clothes down
told me to give them away, but didn't
nobody want them.
That knit stuff, clothes
from way back yonder, don’t
nobody wear no more,
and the pants was all bell-bottom.

We ain’t that out-of-style.
I was going to take them
to Salvation Army but didn’t
have no way to get there,
so I just made quilts out of them.

this, Greeks, is not born of moral sense: like,
I can do this, they can’t
so I gotta because the world needs
a quilt—
but it does:
all the banks need one
someone’s face’s
blown off and there’s a sad muddy ditch
with someone’s face parts and someone’s
penis and other bodies blasted into it—
stuck half deep in it—
that ditch needs a quilt now,
someone never made it
out alive
someone’s telling lies on-air every night
someone just said, “Allow him his tonsure”
and when someone speaks as if it can be no other way
that means they need a quilt,
and Robert Mugabe: be quilted!
and you who’ve lost your son to the World
of Warcraft: we wish
his avatar quilted in phone lines in space
we can reach him, we will reach him
and does Than Shwe know what a quilt is
could he hold people and small cats in quilts
if he tried
can we all just surround Kim Jong-Il
kick him in the balls
wrap him in a quilt and song him

someone just saw the bunch
of charts and green lines
you bet your mother’s social welfare on
last quarter and lost
and that someone said,
“Quilt it up into sumpin’—”
and that’s what Gee’s Bend is,
but not because it has to be.

1 comment:

Jeff Tigchelaar said...

'because the world needs a quilt.'

Yes! Sweet concept... this poem made me want to know more about the Gee's Bend ladies and see their artwork.

Poets, of all people, can/should give shouts-out to quilters, seems...

'and without the women
there’s no quilts'

Let the world know: dudes do it too!
(see, e.g.,