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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Blue Suit


When I bought the Nimble Needle I found among many books The Very Stuff, of all things in a stitching shop a book of poetry. What was it doing there? Its a book of poems by Stephen Beal based on DMC colors. For the history buffs DMC was founded in 1746 by Jean-Henri Dollfuss. The M comes from his daughter-in-law Anne-Marie Mieg and the C stands for Compagnie). What was remarkable for me was I think the poems are actually quite good! and the fact that DMC is the inspiration is secondary. I enjoy poetry and I'll admit many I don't understand without having someone more knowledgible explain them to me as in back in my college days. However his poems are so visual for me that I get them. I hope you do also. For no other reason than July 4th I've selected one on #3750, a nice blue. Its not one of ones I like best but it is short. Many of my favorites are on reds. But some are long and not knowing my audience i don't want to lose readers. Though maybe around the holidays I just might have to try.

When I Was a Little Boy
I had a storybook about the making of a suit,
a blue suit for a boy who lived in the country on a farm.
His father sheared the wool for the suit from the sheep,
then his mother carded the wool, and spun it,
and dyed it in a vat of indigo.
She hung the hanks of wool on a line
   where they turned the green grass blue as they dried.
Then she wove this blue wool into worsted
   and sewed a suit from the cloth for her son.

Hello, 3750.
The last time we met I was sitting beside Mother,
looking at the pictures while she read me that story.
The first grownup suit I had was blue.
and I wore it to Miss Pocock's Dancing Class,
with white cotton gloves and a blue and red silk tie.
My ears stuck out.
My pompadour was carefully arranged.
I never thought of the contribution of sheep
   to my stylish appearance.
I was learning the foxtrot and the rumba and the Charleston.
I was on my way to being Fred Astaire.
  and I had no patience with the basics of life.

Thus sons leave the farms
for newfangled lives in the cities.
Thus aging men put their feet up
as they consider the joys of long ago.

Stephen Beal, fiber artist; poet and the ninth President of the California College of the Arts. www.stephenbeal.com

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