Let the rain kiss you (Langston Hughes, metaphor, and fabric)…

The other day, just as we were leaving one of our favorite local coffee shops, Bee stopped in the rain and just stood there looking up. As every parent can attest to, the first thought that went through our minds was, “Now what the heck is that batshit crazy child doing?” The second thought was, “Wow, she looks so beautiful,” which she did as she just gazed up into the oncoming rain.

K asked what she was doing, and she replied, “I’m letting the rain kiss me, like in that poem.” I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of anything (and yes I say that a lot and will likely say that again tomorrow). You see, it is the first line of April Rain Song by Langston Hughes:

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night—

And I love the rain.

What was really amazing that Bee recognized just what kind of rain was falling, that soft, gentle spring rain that indeed just kisses you ever so lightly. It wasn’t a pattering rain that could lead to a drenching, just that exact rain that calls out to be stood under, stood in, and be given the chance to kiss you, to let you know that winter is indeed gone and the gentle warmth of spring is here at last.

But what this is really about is the fact that Bee is moving past just recognizing metaphors to internalizing, beginning to take the way they speak as a given in her understanding of the world. She knows that rain can’t literally kiss her, but appreciates the way the idea describes both the physical experience and her state of mind in relationship to it. In that moment she was loving the rain, and she felt its love in return.

You see, that is how I see fabric design; every single print is a metaphor, whether that metaphor is small or large. It is always about something other than itself. Great fabric design is evocative; it transcends the simple facticity of its presence to speak of something more, something ephemeral that cannot be spoken directly. Its roots may be in the mundane or the ethereal, but it always represents something more. Working with great fabric is akin to letting the rain kiss you; it is the act of being open to what is hidden within experience, seeing through the colors and shapes to that something more.


So, thank you Langston Hughes for teaching Bee about metaphors, and for reminding me why I do just what I do the way I do it.


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