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  • by Janet St. John

Art & Soul Short #13

Wearing Blanket. 1860–70. Navajo. Wool. H. 69 x W. 48 x D. 69 in. (175.3 x 121.9 x 175.3 cm). The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Open Access.

Tight Weave

Hills at my back; dome sky; sun rays through slits of mouth-shut fingers, hand raised to shade eyes. I live here, in this alive place. This place lives in me. I wear it like my tunic or cloak, pull it closed around me. It is life, what I make to protect myself, what I make to keep out cold and hold in warmth. What I turn into thread, what I dye and dry, what I weave on warp-weighted loom, what I see that comes to life in tight checkered weave. Crimson square. Blue-line river. Braided saffron straw. I wrap landscape around my shoulders. It holds me. This place. Where I live. My vision of the world, right here. It’s all I know, and it knows me. At night, I share evening’s sky-dark blanket with the ones I love. We wrap ourselves in quieting, the winding down to sleep: insects settle, fire crackles, hot peaks become blue-ember valleys. I adjust my blanket, lie down to sleep in round straw-roofed house, blanketed with the scent of fire smoke and sweet grass still damp with summer rain. A blessing that raises rivers, quenches thirsts. I close my eyes and see this place in dream world, disassembled, reassembled. In the morning, I tell my husband stories of my night mind, where he appeared as laughing deer or the wild dogs that live with us spoke full sentences, told me how to cook boar over fire. Before closing my eyes, I will thank the sheep for the wool they let me shear, thank my husband for fowl and fish, thank the dogs that stay near when they hear what I do not. I will thank my ancestors and the gods I believe in for the swaddling life-linen that the world wraps around us.

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