"The Colors of Fire"
After the awful summer
when fire swept through
the village of Itadesh,
the survivors salvaged
some of Laisesu's last work --
from the wooden vats, hanks of blue
like the summer sky, like wildflowers;
and from clay-lined pits, blazing skeins
of gold and orange and scarlet.
Laisesu had been brilliant,
but too prickly to take an apprentice,
so much of her knowledge had been lost.
Itadesh had left of her only a few tricks
that her occasional helpers had learned
or that she had shared in bits and hints
with herbalists and other dyers as she
sought their input for new projects --
only that, and the last of her yarn
that had survived the fire.
It was the decision of the Elders
that the skeins be divided among
the domestics of all three villages
for use in projects telling the tale
of the Itadesh fire.
Those chosen closed the yarn
in reverent hands as they thought
about how best to capture the tragedy
in weaving, knitting, or embroidery.
The sky and the water of the North
enclosed the burning tongues of flame
on blankets and skirts and scarves.
Golden sparks appeared in fringes
of purple smoke through the use
of beads or sequins tied onto threads.
Yellow candleflames worked in wool
acquired hearts of pale blue yarn.
Every stitch, every flick of the needle,
became an act of mournful reverence.
If they could put their pain into what
they made, perhaps it would be
easier to carry that way.
The people would wear these things
in memory of what had been lost,
their sorrow turned into art, just as
Laisesu had turned bark and seeds
and clay into colors as bright as
the fire that had swept over them.
* * *
The Itadesh Fire is a storyline which you can read on the Torn World site. It includes "Colors of the Elements" by Ellen Million and "Laisesu's Blues" by Deirdre M. Murphy.
Pit dying is a traditional method of coloring fibers and leather. It often yields black, but can produce indigo blue, henna orange, or many other colors. Many minerals and plants contribute to historic dyes. Temperatures and other factors during the dying process influence the final colors.
After a loss, artwork can help with the mourning process, especially fibercrafts.</user>