WEB OF LIFE
(for Ronnie Gilbert)

She was a weaver.
Picking up the thin threads
handed down from struggling
ancestors
generation after generation
As she walked the streets
of the garment district
sang the songs of justice
and freedom
Played the parts of strong women
before the world was accustomed
to seeing our muscles flex

The fabric of her life
So rich in color
So varied in texture
So flawed in so many places
And yet so sturdy
and so soft
Like the light shining fiercely
from her bright eyes,
when she looked at you
and beckoned a conversation
with her smile

Does it all unravel in the end?
Do the frayed edges matter?
Or the gaping holes?
The thinning spots that survived
years of travel and travail
threads catching on sharp
edges
or burned by the occasional
flame
that danced out of control

Must it all unravel?

Or do we who are left
holding the tapestry
of others’ lives
Simply acknowledge the warp and
weft
take the time to remember
the particular placement
of each specially colored thread

and then
quietly and carefully
fold in the frayed edges,
make a neat bundle
like folding the flag
and then
holding the fragile cloth
in our trembling hands one last
time
put it away
on a special shelf
for safe-keeping

Until one day
a new, creative soul
or an entire generation
inspired by the ashes or stories
of ancestors
takes down the precious package
picks up the loose threads
sits down
and with a new vision
takes up the loom
and begins to weave
again

©Redwing Keyssar
July 2015