The Ozette Tartan

Neile Graham

woodpecker feathers   dog hair   cattail fluff
woven with cedar bark in a delicate plaid
a Makah blanket   mud-buried 500 years
on the not-so-Pacific wet northwest coast

a woman’s eye   her craft inventing
pleasing colours and geometries
echoing patterns   constructed by hands
10,000 miles away on another

dark and storm-wracked winter shore
her arms weaving warm protection
for the sleepers who will lie under
her blanket’s spell   each charm

stretched and pressed across her loom
their bodies warmed   by her labour
testament to those whose flesh it covered
now merely ghosts of inference

their drowsy breath   crowds the case
which displays the fibers made frail
by centuries   ghosts that edge each other
aside till her shape looms there

plucking feathers and fluff   working
the bark soft enough to shape   and from
her delicate tools she plucks
the plaid’s patterns   a tender beginning

a legacy of the designer’s eye
outlining   feathers   hair  fluff   bark
patterning   the never-Gaelic
path of her patient clever hands

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERANeile Graham is Canadian by birth and inclination, but currently lives in Seattle, where her life is full of writing and writers. She is a graduate of Clarion West Writers Workshop and currently serves as its workshop director. Her poetry and fiction have been published in the U.S, the U.K., and Canada. She has three full-length poetry collections, most recently Blood Memory, and a spoken word CD, She Says: Poems Selected and New.