The Fabric Of Life

The shop was like a magician's hideaway.

Lace dripped from shelves like melting snow; an aurora borealis had been pulled from the sky and now burned somberly among the satins; velvets curled like sleeping animals.  I saw taffetas with tiny roses growing from their borders and black linen sutured with thread the color of a sunset.

But I stopped at the silks.  They were like breaths of iridescent air, and seemed to shudder away from my inquisitive fingers.  They were printed with filigrees of growing things:  damask roses, acorns, and thistles.  There were leaves growing like the underwater fans that cooled the gaping, panting fish:

There was an entire mongrel genealogy of wildflowers: 

They were all twisted into a Rococo exuberance and colored with nature's gentility.  Madcap and subtle, the silken landscapes thrived in my hands.

Suddenly, I felt the dainty textiles move and contract.  The textures changed as quickly as clouds confronting the wind:  tense and rough, then smooth and conforting.  There was a quick sharpness as well.  I stared at my hands, and indeed there was an offending spot of blood…now where had I seen that thistle?

There was warmth, and the colors paled:  there was cold, and my silks became dark and shaded.  I heard water – as thin as ribbon, as faint as the daytime moon – and the pretty fabrics were streaked with damp.

I smelt earth, and chlorophyll; decay and green youth.  There was the scent of life:  cool Spring, dank Summer, the Autumn's harvest and Winter's spices.  Within the threads taken from the spindles of busy worms, I detected the watercolor fragrance of flowers and trees.

I heard an aggravated fluttering, and the painted leaves shivered.  There were hoofbeats and I peered into the sharp folds, looking for tears caused by tiny antlers held too proudly.  I heard a quiet buzzing, and wings bobbing in the air – and an occasional flower would sway fretfully.  Newborn breezes lifted the living fabric out of my stunned grasp.

Then the fabrics were quiet.  I carefully gathered the resting silks in my arms and walked outside, unnoticed.  I walked until I was out of the city, until the streets I followed became dusty outlines and forests stretched out like welcoming arms.  I laid the silks on the grass, and, content that they were safely home, left them there. 

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10 responses to “The Fabric Of Life

  1. (Nature inspired fabrics and wallcoverings are joy. I'm having a wallpaper like number two in my spare bedroom.)

  2. Ahhhhhh! I can hear, smell, and feel everything through your eyes, Aubrey. What a pleasure.

  3. velvets curled like sleeping animals
    I have a writing day today, and I doubt I'd reach any image as evocative as this in a dozen writing days.

  4. This is the ultimate compliment to silk textile artisans.

  5. As magical and disorienting as a dream…You've taken textiles and transformed them into the Fabric of Life, a rich and compelling fabric indeed. Your magic is always amazing, Aubrey–well done!

  6. Yes to all the comments. This line in particular took my breath away: Newborn breezes lifted the living fabric out of my stunned grasp. May I ask for unrevealed reasons the name of this shop and/or the name of the street it is on, if there is one.

  7. I love beautiful and delicate fabrics. I love your writing. So I am a happy woman now! I really felt like I was reading Proust again. Aubrey, thanks for your beautiful words again!

  8. Aubrey is better than Proust!

  9. Bobble – these swatches were taken from a book I know you'd like, Rococo Silks.
    JP – glad for you to be there with me!
    Laurie – great praise indeed – I'll admit that it was one of my favorite lines.
    pyrit – silks so many times compliment us, it's time to return the favor!
    Renee – thank you: every yard, every fold and crease is a living cartography.
    WBaby – sadly, the shop does not exist. While writing I had Tenniel's image of the shop in 'Through The Looking Glass And What Alice Found There': where the Sheep waited on Alice, and every shelf seemed full, though became quite empty as she approached.
    SHorse/LT – Proust is on my list of Authors To Investigate. Has been there for a while – I am slow to take up new challanges!

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