The Navajo Rug
by Barbara J. Warren
Like pieces of fallen cloud, the sheep are scattered on the hillside.
In the summer’s hot wind and the winter’s cold, the woman herds them.
To the hills in the day, to the corral at night,
To fresh grass and water she herds them.
The rug begins in Strength
A storm drapes itself around the mountain. The sheep are restless. They scatter.
The woman tries to gather them. She cannot.
She kneels in the dust of the land to pray.
The sheep come together.
To the rug is added Faith.
The sheep are sheared. The wool stands in fat bags against the hogan wall.
Now the carding begins. Short, quick strokes. Fibers straight, dirt combed out.
Now the spinning begins. Turning, turning, turning, turning of the spindle
While knowing fingers pull the wool into a strong, straight thread.
Now the washing begins; now the dyeing begins.
Into the rug goes Patience.
The rug grows slowly on the loom.
Its design, unwritten, has gathered itself in the mind of one
Who has long looked out upon the land
And seen its ever-changing colors and patterns.
The rug is woven in Beauty.
The way to the trading post is long
And when the woman gets there, what will she get?
Lengths of sateen and velvet that shine like shimmering jewels on the shelf?
New dishes, a cooking pot -- hers is so old. No.
This and this and, yes, this for her children.
And this and this for her man.
For herself, not a thing.
The rug is finished in Love.
The woman is gone. You come to buy. The price is too much?
No, my friend. Not for this rug. Not for what is in it.
All that the woman is, is in this rug.
All she thinks, all she believes, all her skills,
all she dreams of and hopes for
have been woven into one in this rug.
And for all this, the price is never too much,
Because you see, my friend,
The Rug is the Woman.