this then, is the place where i stand and attempt to weave. and sometimes i write.
the two staircases are on opposite sides, and underneath the upright cot which always covers the one on the right, there is an old iron trunk which is half buried in the smooth mud wiped earthen floor. the floor is freshly swept and the circular sweeping marks of the washcloth used to coat the floor with a thin layer of yellow mud end abruptly by the wall. the mud floor is cool and probing to the touch of my bare feet when i stand up. there is a little cast iron ridge all around the square fire pit lined with bricks stacked close to each other. the ashes have been cleaned out recently and the little bit left is neatly hidden in between the bricks. who will build a fire here ? i wonder if the old woman who sits and roasts the little carcasses of bee-hives harvested outside and brought in through the wooden door, also builds the fire ? i do not know. whenever i see her here, the coals are smouldering or glowing hot, ready to roast the honeycomb carcasses painstakingly put together with perfect geometric symmetry of triangles and hexagons. unable to think of a suitable answer to my questions, i go back to weaving. i weave with strips of fine muslin, the kind anything can be strained through, if one is careful to pour in at the same rate as the liquid strains through the gauze, slowly. there are two strips, each unending so far, and fed to the courtyard through the two staircases, stairwells. and i have a purpose. i weave.
i have a purpose, i must stand.
the two strips come down and collect in two earthen pots, waiting to be woven together. it will be a simple task since there are only two strips and all i have to do is place one in two parallel lines and place the other alternately over and under the first one. and so i will weave. i will stand.
to get my fingers ready, i train them by moving them over the cracks in the plaster walls. before i get to the cracks, there are places where the plaster has ripened for cracking, and the little line in musty rainwater black has appeared and split into two before it wanders off towards one of the older cracks. i move my fingers slowly over these cracks. i want to learn the ways of these lines, so that i may weave with the same flow. i want to start soon so that i may keep up with the cracks. i will stand so that i may keep up.
the courtyard is again filled with the smell of the old woman's hands. Wrinkled and quiet, the hands are efficient, tossing carcasses in, and then turning them over when they pick up the golden brown lines from the cracking coals. to cover these lines, i will weave. i will stand.
sometimes i think. sometimes i think that i can see the ruins that lie beyond this courtyard. like an ant-hill that dries itself in the orange earthen glow of the afternoon sun after the rain, there are lines left by the water which runs off the smooth round tops of the thick walls of the ruins. a family of gypsies has moved in to the ruins since i last saw them. now i can see their roma green and dusty red and pale yellow clothes drying outside, hanging from the balconies under the right side of the dome. in the sunlight that comes right after the rain, their clothes dry faster, and the little round mirrors sewn into the clothes send out sharp reflections that intersect in the air around them before the clothes move and move them into the shadows of their folds that mark the spot where they will emerge next to send out the reflections again.
to give my mirrors a place to stay, i will weave.
i wait and cannot weave.
i cannot wait.
in the middle of the courtyard i stand and wait.
i know the lines and cracks that are around me.
my maps and legends both reside in these lines and cracks.
no one except me would see them.
no one except me would know them.
no one except me would remember them.