Amy Floyd has been a member of the Inlandia Creative Writing workshop in Riverside program since its first session began in June, 2008.
The Weaver of White Park
There is a girl who greets the gates of White Park in Riverside every morning, as soon as the park opens for the day. With her bag on her arm, she waits for just the right spot. She walks the park on long, young legs. Her footsteps are light and unsure, unwilling to hurt the blades of grass she treads upon.
Each day, she goes to a different spot. Today, she sits beneath a tree that stoops under its own age, and pats it gently on the trunk as one would pet a great beast. She nods a greeting to the others as they pass her. Some she has seen over the years, while others have come to look her over with keen eyes and curious minds.
She takes the blanket from her bag and stretches it out upon the grass, still wet with dew. With patient hands, she pulls four wooden needles from her bag and listens for the time to begin. A man passes by, whistling a tune that only his ears can understand, and she snatches the notes with nimble fingers. They are silver with the light of joy and she measures each string from her ear to her heart. There are four strands in all to form the weft of her weave; four directions for the anchor of her creation. She threads the needles, polished smooth by time, and the four strands become eight. She nods her head to the foundation chain. Eight is a strong number, one that can last forever in the right hands.
As the day passes, the woman lets her eyes wander over the city around her, her ears picking out the right pieces. A baby’s cry is lemon yellow and finds its way to her fingertips. She quickly feeds it onto the loom and snatches the burnt umber of an old man’s cough, adding it to the rose-colored coo of new lovers. The red and white of a paramedic’s siren are shadowed by the gray of deep loss. She works quickly to complement these new colors to her palate with the leafy green of new life carried in the womb of a woman passing by, a woman who knows not yet of the miracle within her. The electric blue of music pulses from the windows of passing cars. Next, the footsteps of a hurried pedestrian form a special shade of heather, soft and thick.
The woman works quickly, the sun on the grass before her counting off the time of day. It used to be so much easier to work here, before the illusion of safety wrapped the park in shackles of iron. There are so many sounds surrounding her, so many colors to choose from, and very little time in which to work. There’s a tangle of tan with office workers gossiping, not so much listening to the conversation, as each waiting for their turn to speak. This becomes framed by the orange of barking dogs and the scolding, red shouts of their owners.
She strains her ears to find the golden notes, the ones without which no piece can be complete: the mumbled musings of an artist, reading poetry to inspire his or her next piece, some kind of universal truth that many search for their whole lives, only to find it waiting outside their front door. Today, she is presented with the gasp of a youth who has found that old age does not always grant wisdom, and that life is better lived firsthand. While books and songs may give the illusion of life, they pale in comparison to the experience itself.
She smiles as she caresses the final piece, knowing, without looking, where it belongs. She shakes with the weight of it. Her hands ache with the work. She slows, and the time draws near. She ties off the final strand to the edge of her piece and slips the thread from her needles. Now completed, the old woman lays the weaving before her to inspect her work. It is time for the park to close for the evening, and many pass before her out the gate. Some turn to look as they leave, nodding in approval. Others look with wonder. The last people walk by, their faces stone. The future will come to them as it always has; each day is a different piece.
She takes one last glance at her finished work, knowing that it will dissolve with the next morning’s dew. She slips the needles into her bag and uses the tree’s trunk to pull herself up onto old, arthritic legs. Tomorrow is another day, and a new weaving. As the gates swing closed, she bids the park goodnight.
Amy Floyd, a resident of Riverside and mother of two young boys, holds a B.A. in Education from the University of Redlands. Her poetry and prose writing has been published in the 2011 Writing from Inlandia creative writing workshops anthology, and also in Slouching Toward Mt. Rubidoux Manor, issues #1-3 from 2008-10. Her writing has also appeared in Phantom Seed issue 4 in 2010. Amy self published an e-book entitled Do Serial Killers Smile At Their Victims? through Amazon.com last April, and is currently in the process of publishing more electronic works. She is also an artist whose piece “Heading In” was published in 2011 in the anthology A Bird as Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows and Ravens.