Path of Needles
by Sally Rosen Kindred

‘Which path are you going to take,’ asked the wolf, ‘the path of needles or the path of pins?’
— “The Story of Grandmother,” from Les Contes Merveilleux de Perrault, trans. Maria Tatar”

Which path are you going to take
the path of aspirin or the path of sun
the path of story or the path of sleep

because your basket’s heavy and your breasts are stones
because it’s a race
and the wolf will go the other way

and the other way is faster

buckles or sky
meal or dream

The path pretends not to know your name
It confuses your body

with the ice in the trees

and the moon’s amniotic flood

with your arterial hood

It moans its dirty pins
which rise in a wall
of bent trills: hover, hum, they whistle you

down: Daughter, you’ll never see

the cottage door. Find a light. Sit and eat
your way back
from the dead hands in the bed,

cracking wide
so you’ll fold inside, become the story, hot and swallowed—

Now go. Run
down the forest’s wet pelt
if you can. Cold hands, warm hood,

turned like a cervix
torn at the rim.

But know
how the silver tongues of pins press
their lessons in. They seep

through the forest’s flesh,
down to the muslin leaves’ grin
and the straw
in your hand. Ignore the moonstains on the open basket,

the infestation of blood in the bread.

Turn. Spit your dirt years out. Choose
hips or hooks
lips or tines

Fasten yourself to the way
and hope time has a mother’s teeth

and the wolf will lick clean
this heel of needles
this skinsong of pins


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 4.

Sally-Rosen-KindredSally Rosen Kindred is the author of No Eden (2011) and Book of Asters (2014), both from Mayapple Press, and the chapbook Darling Hands, Darling Tongue (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Blackbird, Best New Poets 2009, Quarterly West, and on Verse Daily.

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