Burnish the already-shining curve, fettle the edges again.
Pull your stitches tighter and let no errant thread escape.
Carve carefully, allowing the shape to emerge,
  then render details, sustaining shadow, figure, and field.
Confine your flourishes, abandon witty tricks.
Reveal — do not obscure for cheap effect.
Crush the impulse to stretch a metaphor.
No scoring points for cleverness.
What can be muted, never shout aloud.
Cite every source.
Above all, be present.
Your work will be admired, might even mystify.

Notice the shift when it comes.
See where you’re bound.
Pound nine-inch nails into the heavy door
 and brook no mention of the terror right outside.
Which organ fails first?
What name will echo down the yawning gorge?


Margaret Allyson works with words and threads, papers and plants, silks and similes. She just cannot stop.