Bob in “the” sarong, Bali, mid-1990’s jdbphoto
The fabric of my batik blouse seems to have grown too thin
as though what keeps the world out suddenly wants in.
A small tear on the shoulder and a long rend on the hem—
At first I wondered what it was that could be causing them.
Its fabric was durable— a fine hand-dyed sarong
spotted in the market and purchased for a song.
Young travelers in Bali, we had watched them being made—
as they traced the delicate patterns, we stood there in the shade.
And then I remembered it was nineteen seventy three
forty-four years ago that I brought it home with me
still smelling from the wax used as a resist for the dye.
The palm trees and the gamelan, the ocean and the sky
are memories wrapped up in that sarong I purchased there.
I used for a wrap–around, a towel for my hair,
a curtain and a picnic blanket, bedspread and a shawl,
a tablecloth and blanket—it served for one and all
as we traveled with our backpacks, on foot and boats and plane
then I took it with me when I went back home again.
Twenty-some years later, with my husband now along
I returned to Bali and brought my old sarong.
We found another like it—one for me and one for Bob.
Whenever clothes were called for, those sarongs did the job.
For years since then, I’ve used them for tablecloth or shawl,
for coverups around the pool, a curtain for the hall.
I had a caftan made of one. Now on another shore,
I wear it nearly every day and this is how it tore.
The woven equipale chair with tiny nails within it
reaches out for fabric every time I go to sit.
It gets my lovely caftan. and another favorite, too.
I know I shouldn’t sit in them, and yet I often do.
These memories are torn from us. It’s no good to resist.
All the parts of those gone days retreating in the mist.
Its fragile fabric wears away in spite of all our care.
It will not last forever. One day it won’t be there.
Later, I will join it through the tears life’s made in me.
All things are made or born to this inevitability.
(Click on first photo below to enlarge all and read captions.)
Fabric is the prompt word today.