'Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles'

by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath.jpg




Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.

by Sylvia Plath      

From Collected Poems (1981) by Sylvia Plath, published by Faber and Faber Ltd.




Poem as Friend to Jenny

Mushroomsby Sylvia Plath

In this episode, Jenny talks with us about the poem that has been a friend to her – 'Mushrooms' by Sylvia Plath.

Jenny joined The Poetry Exchange online and is in conversation with Poetry Exchange team members, Fiona Bennett and John Prebble.

Fiona reads the gift reading of 'Mushrooms'.


We talk to people about the poem that has been a friend to them.

In exchange we create a gift for them, a bespoke reading of their chosen poem inspired by the conversation. Our award-winning podcast shares these unique and powerful stories of connection with people across the world. 


We set up an intimate environment for these conversations at festivals, in arts, cultural and public spaces across the country. We also hold exchanges ‘long distance’. Our visitors come from all walks of life and we also feature well-known personalities such as Andrew Scott, Maxine Peake, Roy McFarlane and Paterson Joseph.