Poetry / November 2012 (Issue 19)


by W.F. Lantry

after Hung Liu, "Loom" (1999)
A slower kind of looking: stylised
leafbirds, some perched, some taking wing, surround
a weaver from the Nineteenth Century
who sits within the tenoned wooden frame,
patient, as studied as the joinery
holding the frame together. Her background,
once black and white, is painted in with hues
from linseed palates: mulberries and blues
combined with gravity, in random streams.
There is no pose. She's just at work. She weaves
a simple cloth for others. No acclaim
accompanies her work. Hung Liu believes
the past is not frozen in static dreams,
but flows through us, a moving, living verb.
And if you saw her paintings, her superb
new compositions, based on very old
photos, you'd think the same: how many lives
have passed through each, women without a name
but memorised on canvas, each survives
in some new way, her unique story told
in colours, and her toil humanised.
[Hung Liu on "Loom": 1 | 2
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