Monday, December 21, 2015

Honoring the Quilters of Gee's Bend

Several summers ago while visiting Sisters, Oregon during quilt week, I had the honor of spending an hour in a mini workshop with some of the current Gee's Bend quilters.  Their styles of quilting and their ways of being were quite liberating.  Below is a poem that seems to speak to the uniqueness of these artists.

The Quilters of Gee's Bend

Seems like that old river tied
itself in a knot just to keep
black folks there at Gee's
Bend while time and fortune
swept on by.

And Master Pettway gave
those folks his name, but stripped
everything else he could. Left
just scraps, but they were used to that.

So those hands that hardly
needed something else to do
unraveled their worn-out
world. Pieced together
remnants of Africa
and raggedy dreams
to make something new.

Let dress tails dance
with britches—heat from
the cotton fields pressed
deep in their seams.
So tired of plowed furrows,
they let their stitches bend
now and then just like
that river. Nothing perfect,
yet God was in the details.
And the quilters called that
making do and visiting
and keeping warm and pulling
up memories each night,
till one day they were told—
we call that art.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing my poem. I don't sew, but was inspired by seeing the quilts on display at the High Museum in Atlanta.