Joan Colby




A woman wearing silk will not sift flour
In hell’s kitchens, she will not deny
Her romantic nature or let flowers
Wilt in the crystal vase. She will hold
You responsible, your tongue as silken
As her desire. She keeps the secrets
Of silk, the forbidden city
Of her body. Her bridal gown of
Red silk says she is elegant
Not pretty like a village girl.
When she speaks, silk threads spin
Into propositions. What she wants
Is what you will learn to want,
Lover of silks.
Think of the injunction:
How in Islam men are banned from silks,
The sly womanly feel of such garments.
A man might step out of himself
Into an otherness that frightens him.
Don’t fear, she calls, in tones of
Black silk. You may touch the gown
Of your future, climb the silken ropes
To paradise. And now she throws
Scarf after scarf of colorful silks
Over his shoulders, his arms, he’s disarmed
Drowning in silks, in slippery seas of them.

 Glint glyph





Mahatma Gandhi abhorred silk,
How the tiny larvae had to die
To produce beauty. Do not hurt
Any living thing: the philosophy
He lived by. Ahimsa silk, peace silk,
From wild silk moths could be
A compromise if peasant cotton
Would not suffice.
In Thailand, women hand-reel threads
To produce raw silk. It takes 40 hours,
A western work week, to make
Half a kilo. To weave on a hand-loom.
So much labor! Silk throwing,
Silk waste spinning. Ah, silk
Textile of the rich. Gandhi went naked
But for a cotton loincloth.