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Needlework Poem By The Elaine Terranova

Needlework Poem By The Elaine Terranova

Sometimes fate takes
a needle’s path through cloth,
looping in and out,
retracing its own stitches,
twisting like a serpent.
In a Moorish seraglio
at Tordesillas, later a convent,
Phillippe, le Bel, kept one woman only,
Juana, his wife, Juana, la Loca,
in a cell with no windows
for forty-nine years.
Daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella,
mother of the Emperor Charles V,
she never stood beneath
the throne room’s coffered ceiling,
never drew through her fingers
Phillippe’s gift, red-violet tapestries
stiffened with gold.
Here one day Pedro the Cruel
would install his young mistress
and their daughter begin
the long chain of white-robed nuns.
Thyme climbed the hillside then,
as it does now. Sparrows flitted in dust,
scattering anywhere fear sent them.
Within her stone walls
Juana walked off from herself
into flowers and ferns,
past statues with their mouths open.
Each day was a union of light and sense,
her needle stammering through cloth
as trumpet vines vied for her attention
with the bright eyes
in the butterfly’s orange wings.

Elaine Terranova
from Damages

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