Needles

It was in the middle of her bedroom,
my grandmother’s Singer Sewing machine.

She never used it,
not that I know
of anyway

I used to check the color of the spindle thread
for years it was tangerine
later faded
to peach

I always wondered why
her sewing table
had a gas pedal
like the piano I used to pound on
pressing
all three pedals
at once

Dad smoked cigarettes before I was born
but Mom told him he couldn’t have smokes
and kids too
so he gave it up
I gave up
piano lessons
Would rather
ride my bike
gave up ballet
too

I carry a matchbook
that says
“Yes, I have a tattoo, and no, you can’t see it”
even though I don’t smoke
but I do
have a tattoo
and
my family
hasn’t seen it

But one day
I knocked
over a plant bent to pick it up
my sister saw my decorated kidney
asked did it hurt
I told her
it was fake
she believed me because
I never did
have any
sort of
tolerance
for pain

This poem was written in the late 90s.