Four thousand years ago, legend tells us,
Lei-tsu dropped a curious fuzzy object
Into a bowl of hot water.
Her eyes must have widened
as the delicate cobwebby tangle
Loosened, then released a single, endless filament.
The lifeless chamber had given up its
Secret as it relaxed and unwound, revealing
Visions of potential. With patience, and delicacy,
The lovely web, not spidery wide, but
Tiny and tight, unwound. Then
was rewound, metamorphosed.
Lei-tsu's strand became stronger than string,
Or yarn, or even steel (if thickness be the same).
But it would be soft as a songbird's wing
It would be warm as a lover's first kiss.
Beauty awaited, just beyond our sight,
Wonder undiscovered, poised, tentative.
Boil the threads, soak them,
Stretch them, dye them.
Weave them together and make them into
Something new and wonderful.
A damask tablecloth, a surgical suture, or
A gown for a Chinese princess.
Who could know that a three inch worm,
Dieting on mulberry leaves,
Would give us satin, voile and silk?
And who can prophesy what other
Humble beginnings will startle us
With their soaring conclusions?