Five Poems

97.  Octagonal braided spirit rug, circular coiled gray center

with alternating light and dark braids radiating into an octagonal
spoked border, stretched and mounted for hanging, see page 109,
figure 55, Shaker Textile Arts, 1980, for similar example     $4600

Cloth is dear.  When the pattern is laid upon the cutting table
each piece must fit snug to its brother that the sheets
may slide in one swift motion smooth along the grain.

We have few scraps.  I may not spoil a new bolt
for the waste of my braiding. But things do wear
with honest use.  And when past mending I am allowed

such remains.  There is a glory in finding this second use.  Honor
in using the used.  Here is a strip torn from Henry’s butternut
brown pants.  Here is Abby’s woad-indigo cloak, here Mary’s

turkey-red shawl—see how they fed the braid, how it grows
at my feet, how Abby’s binds to a remnant of little Anne’s
pokeweed purple shift.  All these good wool of our own

good sheep.  And cotton, even more dear, we must not
forget the cost of cotton to the girls who flee to us deaf
and maimed from the Amoskeag mills, nor to the friendless

slave laboring through scorch and scourge.  I take
all, hard-used yet strong.  Shape them to our circle
as my dream has taught, by my hands coiled and curled,

this my gift, my little vision, my Family, and those other souls.
This is a small skill, balance and symmetry. To make of castoffs
a whole.


38.  Paint can with lid, unique design, tin

with set of matched brushes; handles fit into
lid to allow excess  paint to drip
from brush into lid and return to can,
Canterbury, NH, Circa 1887              $650

Our Mother did not make this world gray—She clothes
Her Summer Fields in gold and edges them with reds
and blues of meadowflowers—Why should we not paint
our village thus? The grainary a butter yellow, the School
House a green like mint leaves in spring, the infirmary
mustard, the bee house the buzzing red at the edges
of an autumn sunset burning above fields of yellow corn?
We do not dress dowdy. Like Her Songbirds we may chose
orange or violet ‘wings,’ cloaks and mantles to warm us
through the prayer that is work, the work that is prayer,
we rejoice in the yellow or purple of finch, the royal red
of cardinal, the urgent blue of squawking jay, all these
she has given to cheer us and urge us to praise—but she also
loves the brown sparrow, in all her bounty none is forgotten—
today I paint the ceiling of the Meetinghouse with the pale
blue of a perfect August sky, tomorrow, our Dwelling white,
the white of snow that blues by night.


196.  Pair of andirons, flat, round headed,

wrought iron pieced with slots in shape of
flame, 18” tall, 6” wide, 3” thick       $209

it is all one flame, moving from dark to light
across the bridge of logs one flare feeding
another spiraling into smoke and dark
we sit our silence spinning thought into
absence spinning spark through soul’s
hope to praise, to carry prayer in tongues
across the living air our friendly quiet seeding
each others calm oh friends across miles
and time I might see you bending to will not
will and I willful in my own dim quiet
always afraid of fire  I cannot strike quick flame
alone oh let my hold my fearful flicker
against the guttering wind let me know
your brilliance stopped within my new ash


27. Lidded round box, oak and pine, original

yellow stain, nailed lapped construction,
 pencil signed on lid "Odds & Ends,
C.T.,” containing pins, scraps of cloth
and paper, Canterbury, NH, c. 1840-50,
4 1/4" h, 6 3/4" dia.                           $8500

Who shall dance in mother’s garden?
a fawn, a dove, a rushing wind.
Who sings the light that hallows morning?
shadow-flies and nets of bees.
Let us open palms in welcome
here to touch dear Mother’s breath
Let us raise our faces skyward
to catch her newborn rain of light
What has Mother brought to feed us?
a bowl of milk in the creamery.
Who shall gather grain in Zion?
woven stalks of new-mown hay
Singing rushes all around us
leaf-twig tapping bending bough
A fragrant wreath with strange new blossoms
graces Mother’s tender brow
Who shall climb her righteous ladder?
children dressed in evening light
Who will clear tomorrow’s meadow?
evening thrush and whippoorwill
Seven pointed star of apples
surrounded by a ring of doves
Mother’s arms are made of feather
Mother’s voice is gentle bells
How does Mother break the silence?
whispered water lightning fish
What will build tomorrow’s dwelling?
blossoms gone to ripe sweet fruit.
Mother’s hair is pure sweet water
flowing from a fount of love
            Mother stops our hands from trembling
            How can we keep our voices still?     


Two Birds in Flame

113. Rare example of private art

parchment, with natural inks, mulberry yellow,  walnut brown, bay leaf green, elderberry
purple, highlights in cochineal yellow, India blue, 18” by 24” rolled, intact with silk ribbon, view of oxen pulling wagon loaded with flowers, sunrise and moonrise repeated in border; back penciled list of names in form of branched tree, signed C.T., Canterbury, 1864 $10, 400

We eat fruit but flowers
Are mothers words
Growing within us toward
Sun and night

Let our fingers dance
Beside her rivers
Milk and cream
Of pure delight

See the oxen
Lightly burdened
Raise their heads to
Her sweet air

Mother’s bounty
Always with us
Seed flower fruit
Birth new and rare

—Kelley Jean White, Gilford, NH