The Cotton Fluffer, Hallaj.
He would travel on foot from one neighborhood to another and sing about his services: Haaalllaaajjjiii
We would invite him to the inner court to set up
shop. His instrument was like a long string instrument with two strings. 

My mother would first feed the workers and bring them tea before she brought out the comforters, all ripped open and the matted contents piled up in two heaps; one was the cotton from summer comforters, the other the sheep wool from winter comforters.

The man and his apprentice would sit next to a pile and pluck his instrument, catch the cotton or the
wool bit by bit, fluff it to get rid of dust or sand and put the fresh white clouds to the other side.

The pling-pling of the instrument was mesmerizing. After many years of not seeing this done, I was whipping cream for a birthday cake for one of my small chidren and I had a vivid flashback to the cotton fluffer and all the details that came with him.

And, after ten more years making Dolce Boccone, Sweet Mouthfuls, (a cake with no flour but whipped cream, meringue, chocolate and a lot of strawberries) with my daughter before she left for college, I had this intense feeling how the stainless steel of the bowl and the white of the cream were my colors and my daughter, her hair dark like a raven, was going to leave me soon.

is the name of a famous Sufi, accused of being a heretic, who was persecuted and hung by the clergy in Iran.

Esther Kamkar, Palo Alto, California artist and poet. Poems, poetry, writing, published works - footer logo

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