Committing natural acts.

She explained that the shoots from the willow were used as the sewing sticks in making baskets. Her son, age 21, slipped one from the plastic bag and picked up a blue box cutter and whittled its end to a sharp point. Sewing sticks. One by one he handed one to each of us as he talked, explaining seasons, yellowing leaves, that baskets aren’t usually made in winter.
I took my father’s pocket knife from my bag, held the stick between my knees and whittled it into a needle. It was the first time I’m sure I had ever put knife to branch, but it felt like something I had always done. I knew how to do it, how to hunch down into my body, lean forward elbow to knees – it was easy to see how it should feel, to get the feel of it. Had we been outside on the porch I could have, perhaps, spit off into the afternoon dirt. It’s true I know that I have lived a life of loathing spit, but change never travels alone. These growth spurts tend to have a rippling effect. Whittling could easily give birth to spitting, they seem to be a natural pair.

I am fascinated to watch how baskets vary hand to hand, how much they have to say about the whole life. Someone is always meticulous and careful, fashioning a perfect basket first time. Someone usually talks too much. Someone gives up and quits, but tries to cover it up that they did.
I myself am not a good basket maker, but make up for myself at least, what I lack in native talent with enthusiasm for the task.

In the beginning
in the beginning
first there was the womb
and then there was
the basket,
the expression of it.