Lee Peterson | The Needles Road

The Needles Road: poems by Lee Peterson. Number 7 in Volume 5 of our Editor’s Series.

cover image: Kiki Smith, Born, 2002, Lithograph in 12 colors on Saunders Watercolor HP from St. Cuthberts Mill paper, 68 x 56 in. (172.72 x 142.24 cm), © Kiki Smith and Universal Limited Art Editions, courtesy Pace Gallery.

Publication:  December 10, 2022 [100 copies]
33 pages
ISBN 978-1-949333-93-0
$ 12.00

Lee Peterson is the author of Rooms and Fields: Dramatic Monologues from the War in Bosnia (Kent State University Press) and In the Hall of North American Mammals (Cider Press Review). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Arts & Letters, Bellingham Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Chautauqua, Southern Humanities Review, and THRUSH. Peterson’s research, writing, and community interests center on issues of human rights, displacement and migration, motherhood, and the lived experiences of women and girls. She teaches writing and works with international students at Penn State University’s Altoona campus. Peterson lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, the novelist Steven Sherrill, and their thirteen-year-old daughter, Esmée.

The Needles Road

“What road are you taking,” said the bzou, “the Needles Road or the Pins Road?”
“The Needles Road,” said the little girl.

                 —from “The Story of Grandmother”

In this version the girl outsmarts the wolf. 
Red flowers on the wall—blood ink
and vellum. In this version she cannot be forgiven

her hunger. She eats grandmother
—a quick snack before stripping down
for the bzou, wicked wolf. The cat calls her slut.
And the bzou answers question after question:

             No, you don’t need that dress
where you’re going. He says:
That bodice/those shoes/that apron.
Throw them in the fire, girl. Instructions

I echo: All you need
is this skin—so fine and pale—your teeth
white, cropped hair, fair. No, there’s no

[ our thanks to Natural Bridge for first publishing this poem ]