poem index

The Needle

Jennifer Grotz
        "When your eyes have done their part, 
        Thought must length it in the heart."
           —Samuel Daniel

. . . Thought lengths it, pulls 
an invisible world through 
a needle's eye 
one detail at a time,

beginning with 
the glint of blond down 
on his knuckle as he 
                              crushed a spent cigarette—

I can see that last strand of smoke 
escaping in a tiny gasp—above the table where 	
a bee fed thoughtfully 
                               from a bowl of sugar.

World of shadows! where 
his thumb lodged into 
the belly of an apple, 
                              then split it in two, 

releasing the scent that exists 
only in late summer’s apples
as we bit into 
                   rough halves flooded with juice.

Memory meticulously stitches 
the market square 
where stalls of fruit 
                           ripened in the heat. 

Stitches the shadows stretched and 
pulled across the ground by 
the crowds pigeons 
                           seemed to mimic 
in their self-important 
but not quite purposeful 
            singly and in droves. 

Stitches the unraveling 
world where 
only vendors and policemen 
                    stood in place.

"The Needle" from The Needle by Jennifer Grotz. Copyright © 2011 by Jennifer Grotz. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Jennifer Grotz

by this poet


Driving alone at night, the world’s pitch, black velvet 
stapled occasionally by red tail lights
on the opposite highway but otherwise mild 
panic when the eyes’ habitual check 
produces nothing at all in the rearview mirror,
a black blank, now nothing exists 
but the dotted