Mantles of Transformation

In 2000, I was inspired by the Mantles Project displayed as part of the Fine Art of Fiber show at the nearby Chicago Botanic Garden. About 30 unique, colorful garments created by local women artists, each reflecting their spiritual/life journey. Awesome. I took many photographs and then the lines began in my head to the poem below. I used my photos as a watermark behind the poem and also read it to the group.

You can see these beautiful garments ( at a new exhibit, Women’s Journey in Fiber Retrospective Exhibit at Lakeside Legacy Arts Park, 410 Country Club Road, Crystal Lake, IL, running Jan 4-22. (Curated by Jan Gerber) Don’t miss this extraordinary vibrant show!

I will be reading “Mantles of Transformation,” at the Artists Reception Jan 17 at 2-5 PM Come join us!

Mantles of Transformation

by Margaret Dubay Mikus

The clothes I wear define
the role I choose to play,
or choose without knowing a choice.
And if I wish to change my past
in the endless unfolding drama,

I naturally would change my garb.
I might buy an outfit that better suits
who I am becoming
or I might fashion with my own hands
a garment of my own devising.

I might think on it and meditate
and in the end just wait
until this mantle of transformation
slowly reveals itself to me….
And my hands begin, as my mind lets go,

to weave from all I know, using
threads from my past
and hopes from my future
and Divine breath with every suture,
all woven into my wondrous creation.

And once I have done it
I know I can
begin with a dream
and make it so I can hold it
in my trembling hands.

And once I have done it
I know you can too, create
a mantle to proudly wear
as you set your course
for a new destination.

We can weave all the love we are
into each moment, each hour,
all the kindness and compassion,
all the fire, longing and desire—
I’ve seen it done.

Thirty women met in a class last year
and began a course none knew well
to discover what lay ahead.
And together, with conscious intent,
each made manifest her heart’s desire:

a mantle of vivid color, pastels or black and white.
Of lace or silk, memory and mist, sweat and tears,
beads and buttons, laughter and determination.
As time went on, they helped each other
realize their lofty goal: to show themselves

and show their world, be it large or small,
a piece of their true magnificence,
remembering as they sewed or knit
what joy in pure creation.
And whether each mantle turned out

as originally envisioned was unimportant,
their lives changed as their hearts opened
and hands worked, each creation becoming
a thing alive, growing and evolving.
Each “baby” was then birthed in its own time,

with many midwives to assist
and encourage and breathe with the “mother’
and to admire each “baby” as it slipped out
and gave a first lusty cry.

Each mantle unique as each woman,
each story one of a kind.
Each mantle unique as her face, her vision,
her spirit, her voice, her life experience.

And it came to be that the mantles were displayed
in a location perfect to see them all and be inspired,
and then moved to another center of art and another….
Will the mantles go home or will they travel,
gallery art or wearing apparel?

Many doors are open, the future
limited only by imagination.
Where could these divine creations go
to spread their inspiration?
A book, on the radio, TV, or the web,

postcards, note cards, and who knows what.
Or the mantles might quietly return to their makers,
to cloak her, to be her flame and let her bask in
well-deserved glory. In the end we find:
it is not the destinations—

it is the journeys that most move us.

Copyright © 2000

mantle: noun and verb

A loose sleeveless coat worn over outer garments; a cloak
Something that covers, envelops
Ornamental facing
Zone of hot gases around a flame
Sheath of threads that gives off a brilliant illumination when heated by flame
Layer of earth
Blast furnace above the hearth
Wings, feathers, and back colored differently from rest of the body
Fold or pair of folds
To spread or become extended over a surface
Covered with a coating, as froth
Overspread by blushes or colors

From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd Ed.,
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992

Share this blog post

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.