Bio Note: I'm happy to have had poems in Verse-Virtual in 2017 and 2018 and enjoyed the lively conversations they sparked; the V-V community seems more important than ever, so here I am again. I live half-time in western Massachusetts and Chapel Hill, NC. I am “still” (at a time of life when “still” is too often a qualifier) working in high tech (after a first-career in educational reform); married, terrific step-children. Poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Tiferet (2016 Poetry Award), Plume, other journals; first book, The Scheme of Things, David Robert Books 2015.
What did I lose when I lost it? Not the flesh and blood, but the human trace of pen on paper manifestly mine. Even my signature is an ipad- finger-painted slur I don’t recognize. When I had my own hand, I had love letters (sent, and, like love, lost); I had lists to tell tomorrow-me “trust this—it’s from you;” I had checks like my mother’s checks, and some recipes whose stains ran ink into memory. A self writing words out in no “font” but my own home-made penmanship, the child’s first letters a light graphite shadow behind a teenager’s ink-proud identity— A note passed in the hall; a boy’s name inscribed under a book flap; poems copied out into a composition book, the marble covers smooth as a monument. And then the woman’s hand, decades of handwork dated and lined in slender marble sheaves now on a shelf. The tap then was no plastic rat-a-tat but a silent draw on a well, deep, sometimes shallow, so that my hand flowed, and sometimes hovered, held back by a catch in the throat, until the breath released, a current flowing through chest, arm, and hand into a form made of words taking shape as a recognition comes clear in longhand— in my hand. A hand I lift and look at now curious to see—Mine, this lined and deep-veined paw, its grooved palm tracing a life? Mine, the grasp I don’t remember letting go? Now, let the loss be mine to take in hand, hold, turn this way and that, and then right – Write — curious to learn what’s gone, what’s more.
When they fail me, words for Sandra’s son, the French town with the riverside café, the state of being --- ehhhh! – Words fail so fully the veil is absolute, a sudden shroud over eyes point blank at a bare white wall. Fending off the panic of the wordless void, I turn to my ABC’s on the blue-lined page once claimed with a fat black pencil. Dropping my gaze from the pitiless present to a child’s composition book, with soft lead I trace holy shapes, straight lines, half-circles, shapes that compose themselves in apple-pie order into my primary twenty-six, holding everything I know. Try the blond-haired boy against-- Ahh…Aaron, Anthony; no; no boorish or bookish blundering Billy; no edgy Chris or Cooper; no dull and diligent Doug; on to the soft middle, Lll—no Liam, a little like Luke, no; a humming Mmm, Mark? Matthew? close, wait, Michael! materializes with an audible snap, a perfect fit in his one true alphabetic niche. The town where we ate crepes, drank vin ordinaire by the Loire? Fau--? Or Fou--? Val-de--- hmmm? Vivant, we joked, bon vivants on the cheap… Close. I let a child’s hand draw the sharp line down, line up, a V that all at once brings a hazy fairy tale village into focus – Vouvant! Letter by letter—ehh-excel— the alphabet—exx--exal— gives me words: exaltation! No one told the child who memorized a runic rhyme that someday a woman would intone it as an incantation, a prayer she knew would be answered, primary as Our Father, but a different god, a different gift.
©2021 Hilde Weisert
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