Dhaka Gauzes. Seeing the village washing hanging high on lines reminded me of a poem I found.

March 5, 2010

Well, actually Owen showed it to me when he saw how pleased I was to find a poetry book called ‘The field of the Embroidered Cloth’. This poem has potential to do something with; not sure what yet….

Small offcuts of muslin drying

The Dacca Gauzes

…for a whole year he sought to accumulate the most exquisite Dacca gauzes. -Oscar Wilde/The Picture of Dorian Gray

Those transparent Dacca Gauzes
known as woven air, running
water, evening dew:

a dead art now, dead over
a hundred years. “No one
now knows,” my grandmother says,

“what it was to wear
or touch that cloth.” She wore
it once, an heirloom sari from

her mother’s dowry, proved
genuine when it was pulled, all
six yards, through a ring.

Years later when it tore,
many handkerchiefs embroidered
with gold-thread paisleys

were distributed among
the nieces and daughters-in-law.
Those too now lost.

In history we learned: the hands
of weavers were amputated,
the looms of Bengal silenced,
and the cotton shipped raw
by the British to England.
History of little use to her,

my grandmother just says
how the muslins of today
seem so coarse and that only

in autumn, should one wake up
at dawn to pray, can one feel that same texture again.

One morning, she says, the air
was dew-starched: she pulled
it absently through her ring.

From HALF INCH HIMILAYAS (Wesleyan U.P., 1987)

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One Response to “Dhaka Gauzes. Seeing the village washing hanging high on lines reminded me of a poem I found.”

  1. Chris Says:

    The poet is Agha Shahid Ali


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