Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Updated re-post from May 28, 2011 - By our rags you will know us

Boro Japanese textile shown here, with photo credit kimonoboy.com.

In an email yesterday, my friend Lynne wrote about a community-wide tag sale going on in her Hudson Valley town. Today she added to the narrative, sharing what she had put aside to purchase. One item she mentioned but did not buy - as we on her mailing list wonder how it was priced - was described thus: We also found a very tiny slim volume, with a rubber stamp inside that read "From the Library of Anais Nin". Well! If you visit Lynne's site, please click on Fine Art and look at the paper quilts.

Paper quilts seque into fabric arts, as revealed in new wonder by Denise who just gave me the word "boro" which is Japanese for rags. The worn, the discarded, feel like extensions of my thoughts.


The California deserts, in the late 1950s, early 1960s, had not yet been over-run by anyone with off-road capability. They were, with few exceptions, places only real desert rats would seek out. In our forest green, new-to-us Jeep station wagon, my family had access to the previously unreachable ghost towns whose sirens sang to our father. Most of our trips, out and back home in one long day, were made with older friends whose experience in that unwelcoming country, and whose winch, saved us...from being stranded, from being sealed in with the angry tension that always traveled in whatever car we took. They brought cake and humor for our picnics.

The unexpected made a cozy home for itself among the rocks, steep dirt roads and flat expanses of Death Valley or the Mojave...the surprise of coming upon the fellows who gathered in the desert because they liked to shoot at stuff or the recluse with the alarmingly disfigured face who helped us find the highway late one Sunday afternoon, our father alternately thanking and apologizing to the man who clearly just wished to be left alone.

Too much quiet still causes me unease, empty quiet that is the sound loneliness makes. I wonder at childhood hours transported from our well-behaved and frequently silent home lives to the solitude, even with five of us together, of so much nowhere. I wonder what energies, what spirits, may have lingered near the ruined towns, the shells of homes, the abandoned mines of unknown depth; what emotion clung to the discarded egg beater or cup, the faded shreds of wall paper in rooms that once held such promise, the sink, the bedstead, the iron-fenced cemetery.

We carry our boro packs, bound with twine. Rags are remnants, not useless, not at all. I see my life as a series of compartments, not always connected, not always a common thread to tie one to those before or after, other than whatever has been salvaged from each leg of the journey. Our rags, fragile souvenirs, evidence, sometimes held only in the mind. We are each the quilt, the patched scraps of all our moments, all the places, all the hearts and hands, bleached rectangles of loss stitched next to moments of bright triumph.


Anonymous said...

Glad you love the boro - I am reminded to mend my jeans now,

Erin in Morro Bay said...

"bleached rectangles of loss stitched next to moments of bright triumph."
This is one of the loveliest definitions of a life lived that I've ever come across. And the boro picture is the perfect accompanying illustration.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Denise - And I love the way blogger stats show that people are reading older posts. It lets me go back and rediscover them as though written by someone else. Found the boro even more meaningful this time around. Thank you. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - Thank you. This is high praise indeed from one so deeply involved with words. A bow of thanks in your direction. xo

Lisa H said...


Marylinn Kelly said...

Lisa - Thank you. The post brought to light again by seeing it turn up in my Blogger stats, readers somehow finding it and, I imagine, sharing it. Bless them. xo