Monday, July 25, 2011

String Figures

what do you do when you want to learn something
                and there is no one to teach you?
I remember from the grainy shadows of my youth
two girls passing a string back and forth
                a string formed in changing patterns, cat’s cradle.
 the cavernous anthropology section of the university library
                row upon row, stack upon stack
                I run my finger along the book bindings
                not looking down I stumble
                reach out for support
                grab a book as I fall
“Aboriginal String Figures and How to Make Them”
That book became my teacher
I tie a length of string together
and go through page by page
                “Jacob’s Ladder”
                “Apache Door”
                “Many Stars”
Follow the words
                do opening “A”
                step one
                step two
                drop the string off the little finger
                insert the thumb
                now do a Navajo Leap
So easy, but then I get to step five and I have to turn the page
                I look at the book
                then at my hands
                the tangle of string trying to make a getaway
                open my mouth
                stick out my tongue
                and go onto step six.

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