Saturday, April 21, 2012

Poem: "Batik Paperweight from Haig Girls School"

Batik Paperweight from Haig Girls School 

by the Aztec hand,/ the Quetzal hand

     Gabriela Mistral, “The Little Box from Olinalá”


Cased in plastic,
three miniature
reproductions

of batik the girls
are painting
in your school.

With the same
gift you greet
American art

educators
on your study
tour.

What do you
hope
to learn here

that you could
not learn
better

at
Pekalongan,
in central Java,

living
with the women
applying

molten wax
with
their tjantings

to the cloth,
outlining
Chinese phoenixes

or Dutch bouquets,
the motifs
of trade and control,

before dipping
eyes into
brilliant local dyes,

as their mothers
had done
before

and their
mothers before
them?

I will keep
this
paperweight

and weigh
my poems
down with it.

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