The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Speak, My Tongue by Carrie Meadows

my grandmother at Peerless Woolen Mills

Machines line up like posts dug three-feet deep
for a fence to remind us of our place
sewing bobby socks twelve hours a day.

The woman beside me hums I Saw the Light,
and I don’t know how she thumps out the beat
with her left foot while keeping steady

on the pedal with her right. The bobbins
whir, spools tick on their rods, and the whole room
becomes the inside of a marching band drum—

every dropped pin, every sigh shudders its side.
A woman nicks her finger, and she lifts
her hand to her mouth. When the foreman

stands over her, our needles dive faster
between their feet. We train our eyes and thoughts
on straight lines, no gathers. Our rhythm bleeds

to fear as white as the thread dust coating
these walls like icing on a wedding cake
for every girl in this room who mistakes

the click of a man’s tongue for her own song.

This selection comes from the collection Speak, My Tongue, available from Calypso Editions. Order your copy here. Our curator for December is Krista Cox.

Carrie Meadows grew up around leather workers, doll makers, quilters, and tall-tale tellers who taught her the importance of straight stitches and good stories. She teaches creative and professional writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Krista Cox is a paralegal and poet living in northern Indiana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Indianola Review, Whale Road Review, and Pirene’s Fountain, among other places in print and online. She twice received the Lester M. Wolfson Student Award in Poetry, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. In her abundant spare time, Krista parents, paints, and plans community events as the Program Director of Lit Literary Collective. Learn more than you ever wanted to know about her at


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