1986
A Braided Rug to Grace an Earthen Floor

“A Braided Rug to Grace an Earthen Floor,” Ensign, Oct. 1986, 21

A Braided Rug to Grace an Earthen Floor

It is a dugout—yes; and it is home.

It will not always be. But must we wait

for beauty, warmth? For comfort, and a rest

for tired feet? This braided rug is where

my children play, I rock my little one,

can do my mending on a rainy day.

O, yes, the rug is rag. Surprising things

are fashioned from such goods—worn, faded, frayed—

Beyond all use, you might say, but for bulk

to stuff a mattress, chink a gaping wall.

The frailest filament may gather strength

among its fellow-strands, enough of them

to give it muscle. Dyed in onion skins,

beet juice, or sagebrush leaves, the fiber, wound

in loose-runged skeins, takes on new gallantry.

With phoenix boldness it will rise again,

bright, coloral to cheer. Restored to life,

it cushions us, lifts us above the floor

of hard-packed earth (we do not call it dirt.

My children pealed the clay to surface it

from dry-wash beds, helped shape and kiln the tiles).

The entrance roof? It’s made of willow boughs

matted to slabs still crusted with their bark,

spread with a gingerbread of friendly earth.

The chimney rises farther up the slope,

above, behind the roof, footed with clay.

It flues the fireplace—which simmers stew,

bakes aromatic loaves from grains we grew.

The children have been good to gather wood.

Their father will be proud when he returns—

his mission to his homeland well fulfilled—

happy and pleased that we have been so blessed

with shelter, and a simple pleasantry—

past want, beyond necessity—yes, more—

This braided rug to grace an earthen floor.

We’ll thank our mentors, mole and meadow mouse,

then quit this cozy hole. A “dobie house”

will rise. Then come and share warm barley mugs

before the hearth upon new braided rugs.

Photography by Jed A. Clark