Hook and Eye

By Sarah Barber

Featured Art: Untitled (Woman’s Arm and Bra) by Ralph Gibson

Often I have unfastened it myself
without tragedy. But I wanted you
to stand behind me—in fact
a fourteenth-century town
of needle manufacturers crocheted
loops from wire because they wanted
your hands just so terribly
close and a little bit slow
at the closure too aggressively
latched to unhook at the will
of its wearer
, which is what was said
to sell it to nineteenth-century ladies,
not quite promising exactly such
an unhooking of their dresses
and all those garments, and indeed
as early as 1643 a woman in Maryland
traded £10 worth of tobacco for hooks
and eyes only because she wanted
you to stand behind me
as the fastening came undone.


Sarah Barber’s poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, The Journal, Fugue, Malahat, Crazyhorse, and FIELD. Her book, The Kissing Party, was published in 2010 by the National Poetry Review Press. She teaches poetry and early modern British literature at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY.

Originally published in NOR 15

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