Roger W. Hecht
first day at the ribbon factory we did not make any ribbons.
their twin histories in ancient Sumaria & the dark
Ribbons have such a rich & complex symbolism, it's
yellow for longing (when tied to a tree), or red's
or black bound tight around a man's thigh.
Attached to the factory is the ribbon museum, unique
in its subject
in a Chinese braid, ending in a knot at the bookshop/café
Among the wonders within: the scrap of three-weave,
brought by mariners from Hunan to Peru in a clay pot.
versions of the Lord's Prayer stitched in reverse.
supposedly stripped from Marie Antoinette's own
A prerequisite to making ribbon
& each day we visit the ribbon machines, enormous
in well-oiled precision, churning out miles of ribbon
flat panels for drapery. Hair ribbons, finger ribbons,
Thursdays we're received into the ribbon rooms, where
To visit ribbon at this stage, where one could possibly
get hurt, we don
& let the ribbon spill upon us. Hot silks nearly
way to learn the ribbon by heart. But sadly
ever get. The delicate weaving machines are tendered
ribbon lung, or fibre lesions under the skin.
far away—Bombay, or Jakarta, we suspect—
We've been told in no uncertain terms there is no work
every day—how can't we? There is ribbon in our
blood & there is
When I was in college I was picked up hitchhiking by some Hare Krishnas and spent the night at their temple, New Vrindaban, the Palace of Gold. Though it never occurred to me to join their cult, ever since then I have always questioned my ability to be wholly devoted to anything. I have tried for years to write about this experience, unsuccessfully. This is one of the poems I wrote instead.