Third Place – 2022 Beverly Hopkins Contest for High School Students

“The first time I read this beautiful poem, I didn’t even realize it was a sonnet; I was so swept up in the intimacy of its opening address to the reader that I only recognized the poem’s meticulous formal construction in retrospect. Only a true literary artist could end a poem with the word ‘end’ so meaningfully and resonantly–and that’s because the sonnet itself is deeply aware of its own making, its own form, and its own status as an imaginative event. In the end, this is a poem about the intricacies of making art and self, and the labor that goes into that making, and the understanding that comes from it.”

Srikanth Reddy, 2022 Hopkins Contest Judge

Threadwork

by MARGARET HANDLEY
Nerinx Hall High School

Do you feel the needle sliding through thick
cotton and muslin? Thread on thread, again
and then twice more. Just needle and fabric.
Simple, a bit like paper and a pen.
Gliding across ever-changing squares.
Cloth or tissue, the sound remains the same.
A husky whisper, bristles on soft hair,
sound and then that nick of pain, that’s a flame.
The prick of a pointed needle on a
finger. Red prints, broken blood blisters with
cramped joints that will one day be of the
many muscles bested by pain like smiths
of distinct industries. But I’ll defend
it! Because pain means little in the end.