Published on Academy of American Poets (

Wild Silk

out in the wild the kingdom
of worms spin in silence
in separation and live
to leave behind

what’s become to them
useless such as luxury
begins and again becomes

the meticulous work
it took to shape a pattern out of
patience wore down a continent’s

grasses into paths and passed
through dangerous terrain for what
for something so indisputably beautiful

you’d be willing to trade everything for it
you’d be willing to go to war to wear it
under your armor as close as anything

might get to your heart, it’s hard to believe
something so small so easy
to kill for even less could produce this dress
this red mess it makes of my senses


Copyright © 2014 by Brian Russell. Used with permission of the author.

About this Poem

“In commercial silk production, I recently learned, domesticated silkworms are killed by pricking them with a needle or boiling them in water while they’re still inside their cocoons, so the thread can be unwound as one long piece. More and more, I’ve been thinking about the various ways I’m wittingly and unwittingly complicit in things.”
Brian Russell


Brian Russell

Brian Russell is the author of The Year of What Now (Graywolf Press, 2013). He lives in Chicago.

Date Published: 2014-11-17

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