Gregory Pardlo

The Miniaturist

She is jack-hammering needlepoint through
a hank of satin blanched in a wash of milk light,
the rippling fluorescents, her sculpted hunch
snow-capped above the workbench, the ceiling
veined with shadow play of plumbing
gurgling like hand fed pigeons.
House-shoes drag out her listening and she
thinks of sea foam inching the linoleum’s
edge, dampening the sill between
laundry and garage where his voice
catches like a sweater thread
on a cuticle, unsure of loss
or longing, before he enters her field
of vision to peck her forehead as if she were
parchment, and he tells her it is good
and she thinks comme ci comme ça. It will do.
Everywhere appears the synecdoche
projecting from the frugal mind in which she
squints at sea swells that broaden like
a yawn before they spasm of compressed light
and the idea of light and the rhythm in between them
is the precision she crafts into displays
she wants to carry through the vastness that follows
the hollow and diminishment of her bones,
the rudderless boats and unchartable shores, the buoys
doddering silently midmotion like satellites she seizes,
fraction by fraction from the lips of stars ever
imploding on the unseen roofs of her balsawood boxes.

Gregory Pardlo
Poem, copyright © 2005 by Gregory Pardlo
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse