2020 First Place

Pin Head Angels

by Miriam Patrick

Sometimes I think of them, the women mostly,
clog-heavy, aproned, at the treadle, in the heat
of their home industry, scarred by spark and error,
bringing wire shanks to a point by grindstone,
or heading pins by block, the thump, thump
rhythm of its deafening music inescapable.

Or else, the girls set to a stiller work, the pillows
straw-stuffed on their laps, twelve hours to go
numb-fingered in the early light, dim-eyed at dusk,
telling the count to set the pins by hundreds, swiftly
into place, pattern the bobbins’ warp and weft,
and twist the white threads deftly into lace.

Or my mother, kneeling at my feet to hem a dress,
pleased with what she’s made, sliding the bright pins
neatly into line, as I stand impatiently, instructed
to stay still or turn, the fabric crisp, new scented,
pricking at my legs, checked for length and hang,
relinquished gladly to be tacked and slip stitched.

As to Aquinas’ angels, I imagine them tiny, radiant,
the pin a stage on which they’re dancing haloed.
Their movement dazzling, impossible to witness,
bodies insubstantial, light flooding from them,
down from head to point to sanctify the industry
of making, add mystery to the graft of being human.