Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Letters Otherwise Quite Helpless on the Page

Or screen or clay or anywhere
Except in the head, on the tongue,
Or in the air—if there. Letters

Of any kind, whether squiggles,
Handsome multistroke characters,
Or full-blown epistles, remain

Helpless without your brains, your minds,
Your readers’ minds, to strengthen them,
Resuscitate them, bring them back

To life, your life. A little like
Schoolhouse chemistry, isn’t it,
Though, just a bit? Ingredients

Apparently lifeless, well-mixed,
And then, the magic part, the thing
That makes the teacher popular,

That makes the lesson exciting,
That encourages, entertains—
One last substance, and, whoa, the bang!

You are yourselves that substance, dears.
You don’t bring the letters to life.
You’re just one more thing that reacts,

The catalyst, if that. The bang
Devours you along with the ink.
Black clouds, if this means anything.

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