Fanny Howe



Some people do embroidery

With plastic and metal,

The threads and red

Pin cushion, the snow

Falling like pepper

On the tar outside.

The letters in color

That have messages

Stuck to each other.

The hands on Friday afternoons

Listening to hip-hop

With their needles busy.


My son the cobbler

Likes his shop shut but must

Open it for business

On the dot of the satellite.


Those who unroll great sheets

Of paper for the streak of a razor

always begin with a blur.


Then decades later separated by yards

Of air they pick up the job again.


What is a shoelace to a boot?

The same as a buckle is to a belt.


Each lost in guessing

Each hovering over a split

Before another needle

Digs a hole in it.

This is eternal work

In the eyes of the universe.



About Fanny Howe:

Her most recent collection of poetry is Second Childhood from Graywolf Press. She was a Finalist for the National Book Award in 2014 for that book and for the International Man Booker Award, 2015, for her fiction. Her newest book, The Needle’s Eye, was published by Graywolf in November 2016. She taught at MIT and UCSD where she is Professor Emerita, and lives in New England.

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