Featured poem, ‘Embroidering Chinese Pin Cushions’ by Jennifer Wong

103/365 (Explored!) Chinese Pin Cushion

Embroidering Chinese Pin Cushions

We start with a satin circle,
fill it with wood shaving or cotton,
steady the centre, cut out

six square cloths to make
six little dolls whose hands
are almost touching.

Grandma lets me draw their beady eyes,
their meek smiles. You fix them in the right places.
Grandma teaches me how to plait their hair.

From early evening until midnight
We’d sit, talking as we work,
the kerosene lamp glowing in the dark.

We’d make enough to fill
the red-and-blue tarpaulin bag:
three dollars for a cushion. A fortune.

Next day we’d bring our satin needlework
to the missionary church
where the sisters would teach us a song,

Admiring the stained glass windows
and the brass eagle on the altar,
we’d hide our blistered fingers in jingling pockets.

Originally from Hong Kong, Jennifer’s poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies such as Lung Jazz: Young British Poets by Cinnamon Press, Frogmore Papers, Iota, Orbis and others. Her poetry collection, Summer Cicadas, was published by Chameleon Press and her second collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. In 2012, she was writer-in-residence at Lingnan University of Hong Kong, and took part in the Poetry Parnassus hosted by the Southbank Centre. She is based in London and works for Magma Poetry.

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(Photo credit)

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