The Eye of the Needle

Where you gonna go,
little ol’ miss white-haired
Black woman?
That cane and those
tired, short li’l legs ain’t
gonna carry you across
the Asheville expressway.

Nawth C’olina didn’t
build you no overpass
on which to walk.
I see you lookin’ so
downtrodden, so perplexed about
how you gonna find the bridge
now that you’ve come to the river
of red BMWs.
I can see the hole
in the fence where
you come from–
just big enough for
you to walk through.

You mighta had to
hunch over your
grocery bag just a little.
Kinda like a camel at
the gate of some ancient city.


Shannon M. Turner
originally published Fall 1995
in The Ampersand, Emory & Henry College’s literary magazine

Note: The eye of the needle was one of Jesus’ most misunderstood teachings. He says, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” The saying was a response to a young rich man who had asked Jesus what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. The response makes it seem that Jesus saying it’s impossible. In fact, the eye of the needle was a gate in Jerusalem, which opened after the main gate was closed at night. A camel could only pass through this smaller gate if it was stooped and had its baggage removed. In other words, Jesus was saying that a person needed to humble himself and give up his worldly possessions.

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