This morning at 6 a.m., I was awakened by the sounds of screaming. I looked out of the window and saw nothing. Then I noticed what I thought was a white garbage bag lying in the street. But suddenly, the bag moved and I heard the awful, in-pain screaming again. The white garbage bag was a woman lying in a fetal position in the street, not the sidewalk, in the street. Oh God. Her intermittent moans and screams. A woman alone and in distress. Then I heard the man's ugly voice, "Get out!" and remembered, not lying in the street moaning, rather, in my bedroom on the floor. At least I had the privacy of brick and mortar. But it wasn't privacy, it was the luck of the draw. I called 911.
I wrote on my calendar, on the June 21 block, “go back to work today.” I figured, first day of summer, refreshed by the newness of life. In this blog, I have written about artists needing to feed their creative wells because, well, ideas get used up. I was feeling used up and took a long stretch of time off, decided to do some reading. I consulted goodreads. But what does reading have to do with quilting? With layers, texture, background, character, plotting (thinking), color, surface design, interior grace, letting go of ego, letting in of Spirit, and it was so beautiful yesterday. Perfect. Sun. Gentle breeze. A trip to the library and Gwendolyn Brooks’ first and only novel titled Maud Martha. “Copyright, 1953, by Gwendolyn Brooks Blakely. Copyright, 1951 by The Curtis Publishing Company.”
There is a description of Maud Martha added to the inside, glued onto one of the book’s front pages, typed with a manual typewriter:
BROOKS, GWENDOLYN. MAUD MARTHA.
The story of Maud Martha Brown, a colored woman - daughter,
wife, and mother - who lives in Bronzeville, a neighborhood of
Chicago, told with the intimate understanding of a woman who
has made a life-long study of negroes.
The book is so old, and I think, valuable, that it is housed in the third floor restricted section. Someone has to go back there and get it for you. I look at the book’s old fashioned reddish brown hard back cover, the back in the day check out card stuck on the inside pocket documenting that the last time someone checked out Maud Martha was September 13, 1972, when fines were “One cent a day on juvenile cards and two cents a day on adult cards for each book kept overtime.”
In Maud Martha, Gwendolyn Brooks opens with:
“What she liked was candy buttons, and books, and painted music (deep blue, or delicate silver) and the west sky, so altering, viewed from the steps of the back porch; and dandelions.”
In Maud Martha, Gwendolyn Brooks ends with:
"But the sun was shining, and some of the people in the world had been left alive, and it was doubtful whether the ridiculousness of man would ever completely succeed in destroying the world—or, in fact, the basic equanimity of the least and commonest flower: for would its kind not come up again in the spring? Come up, if necessary, among, between, or out of—beastly inconvenient!—the smashed corpses lying in strict composure, in that hush infallible and sincere."
I go into my sewing room, look at the Redwork in Blue quilt hanging lonely on the design wall.
I finger my hand embroidery, remember my numb fingers as I told myself, just 20 minutes more, then you can take a break. I try to remember where the quilt wanted to go and why I had stopped driving it there. “Hmm,” I say aloud to no one. Or maybe I am apologizing…to the quilt for her loneliness, that fact that she is unfinished.
Next, I am reading Blessing the Boats by Lucille Clifton, BOA Editions, Ltd, 2000. In Blessing the Boats, I am reminded of honesty, the integrity and fearlessness needed to create. You just gotta put it out there. Say, “Here, this is what I made.”
From Blessing the Boats:
How painful is insecurity. In not knowing. In our intermittent moans. I pick up my guitar. Her name is Ice and she talked to me, said, “So what you just decided to learn me last year. If you listen, really hear me, I will sing to you and you can mimic me.” And so I became accepting, like a child, and thankful that I stopped listening to insecurity, just in time. Insecurity woulda ran me over again, its booted foot kicking me in my ribs, leaving me on my bedroom floor in a fetal position, muddy footprints all over my soul.
From Blessing the Boats, Gwendolyn Brooks writes in “study the masters,”
So maybe I'm misinformed. Maybe this isn’t a blog about quilting, only.
I decided to listen to the masters, Gwendolyn Brooks and Lucille Clifton. This is a blog about us and our internal Maud Marthas and Aunt Timmies. A blog about how to iron, perk up our own dried edges, how to dream, how to remember and decipher, how to think in multiple languages, how to hope and ritual chant so we can better recognize our hot irons need to strike.
This is how we make things.
See and read information about the completed Redwork in Blue Variation here.
This is a blog about how we make things.