In my studio, I am working out a dress pattern

on brown paper, wearing a tunic with elephants

dyed a brown paper brown. It’s an ordinary day

after a difficult month. Outside there’s rain.

Even the wet sidewalks have turned dull,

soft brown. It is good to smell wet pavement,

to immerse my adrenaline-soaked body

in a day of normal.



Not much grows here if you don’t water.

Things with spines generally do well.

Little grasses that spring up and flower quickly

after a July monsoon go dormant again

without notice. Keep an eye, and a hose,

on a small patch of ground, though,

and you can make a tiny oasis. This Sunday

we mark forty years together, and I am thinking

about the people who said we wouldn’t make it.

I will never talk you into seeing the world

the way I do, although for some reason I will also

never give up trying. Maybe that’s the secret.

Anyway, we have managed between us to produce

some interesting paintings, a sweet collection

of dresses. Happy offspring, lovely meals.

The apricots on the tree out front are ripening

in technicolor. The whole neighborhood is noticing.



Be where your feet are

Be where your hands are

Be where your spine

connects with the earth

Sing the words that come

here in the time in between

You only have to know

whatever it is you know

Wear the clothes that fit

Speak the words that resonate

Love the ones you love

It will teach you how to be



I text my daughter to announce that

the dress has found its mellower incarnation.

The first print was okay, but not wonderful.

So I overdyed it and then overdyed it again,

each time pulling it from the dye bucket

and declaring it perfectly acceptable

but still not quite right. Finally, today,

I can feel the quiet intensity of the

layers of color resonating with the energy

of the earth. I wear it as I sit to meditate,

breathing softly as I shed most of the

crisis energy of my day and find my way back

to the sun. It’s slow work, taking responsibility.

Is this a worthy life? Paying quiet attention

to the deep energies. Trying to match

the inside to the outside. One less

unkind remark. One more conversation

centered in joy instead of fear.



Elisabeth Horst

Elisabeth Horst

I make my own clothes and write about the process. Among other things.