Sunday, April 8, 2018


A detail (lid & bottom) of a sweetgrass basket

Amid marsh and meadow
vanilla scented Sweet Grass grows
beside biblical Bulrush and Palm
while Long Leaf Pine drop needles
and slave descendants perpetuate
homeland's link of hope and salvation;

baskets coiled by artisans - Motherland's
low-country baskets of yesteryear's plantations.

by Margaret Bednar, April 8, 2018

Enslaved Africans fashioned these baskets for work on the plantations, finding the same plants in the low-country that grew in Africa thus reinforcing their faith in God's eventual salvation.  Bulrush was originally used, but has been replaced with the softer, finer sweetgrass and long leaf pine has been added for contrast and palmetto has replaced split oak as binders.  Today they are highly valued (and expensive) collectable baskets made by today's artists - having learned the ways from their family members, many starting the craft as a young child at their grandmother's knees.

I fell in love with a $1,200 basket.  I ended up buying a very (very) small basket for $49.  I'm a quilter, and I understand the hours that go into a piece like this.  I wouldn't think of selling a queen size home-made quilt for less than $1,000 and even with that my time and materials would not really be fully rewarded. Obviously, I won't be selling any quilts but I lovingly make them for my home and children.

HERE are some beautiful examples of these sweet grass baskets.

This is linked with "Imaginary Garden with Real Toads - Poems in April - A L'Arora" an eight lined stanza with a rhyming scheme of a, b, c, d, e, f, g, f  .

Also for NaPoWriMo - National Poetry Month  (30 Poems in 30 Days). 


Sanaa Rizvi said...

This is incredibly gorgeous, Margaret!💞 I love that you included the background that inspired you to write the poem. It amazes me sometimes to think how people create this stuff.. and that too out of Bulrush and Sweetgrass! Thank you so much for writing to the prompt💞

Kim Russell said...

The background to your poem is interesting, Margaret, and adds to poem. I love the use of smell, the use of sounds (the sibilance of 'scented Sweet Grass' and alliteration of 'beside biblical Bulrush and Palm') and the final image of the coiled baskets: as if they were being made before our eyes.

L C Folks said...

I, too, like the “ vanilla scented sweet grass grow” From your portrait I can imagine someone sitting quietly and fashioning her basket. Thank you for the information as well, very interesting.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love that you stopped with one stanza. I also love sweetgrass baskets and enjoyed the informative notes that followed. Your quilts must be so beautiful.

Vivian Zems said...

Even at one stanza, you packed in quite a bit here. It's beautiful to read history in poetic form. I hope this part of culture doesn't die out completely.

Neeraj Khanka said...

Ah, I have seen a few of them at my place and they are beautiful. A close look
shows the hours that must have gone into such a detailed work.
Decades of culture and tradition in there.

annell said...

I am a lover of quilts and baskets. We could say the crafts of the home...I enjoyed your write today!!

Kerry O'Connor said...

The craft of basket-weaving is still alive and well and practiced in Africa - the basket being both a purposeful article, as well as an artwork.
You convey the introduction to this theme very well in your stanza, and I could see you adding to the story over time. It is a rich source for your poetry.

ayala said...

I love the poem and the notes are a great addition.

Jim said...

I like the line, "when blame built a boat." To bad it didn't last forever. I also liked the nice Form Rules site where you sent us. Is that yours?
p.s. I came last night but didn't finish my comment on Southern Girls. I was looking for a very old song, I don't really like Tim McGraw's song. Didn't find it, didn't finish my comment. Sorry.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

A rich and intriguing poem, which I do hope you will build on in the future, as I'd love you to tell us more.

Anonymous said...

This is just so amazing for the translation, transcription - bring us back to a long held, fashioned tradition, and marrying us right up to the now. And as the others have notes, the full use of senses to do, this, adds the real dimension so needed for this type of poem to work. And it works beyond "stellar" - wow!

gillena cox said...

Luv the 'long ago and today' aspects of your poem, so nicely fitted to the poetry form