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by Nancy Takacs
I used to feel the subject was nothing, studying my own language,
so easy. I thought I knew everything, remembering all of the forms
of to be, that am is a verb.
I was able to juggle a present-participle among the plu-perfect
on tests. In eighth grade, strict Sister Rose made us write
an essay about ourselves. I started with the title
and couldn't think of one. I hated the personal,
thought like my mother who said to keep my mouth shut
because she always said too much
and got in trouble. I got a D for rambling.
Tonight is so clear the sky is shiny, unbreakable.
It soothes my shoulders, soothes the braided rug.
I think of ordering a lampshade
with a clipper ship, its base a pretend telegraph;
and a table of willow sticks. I've always loved codes, forms,
diagrams like fishing lines dangling
from the subject and predicate, which could finally be
caught from the mystery of syntax,
to be erased, thrown back,
to on living somewhere invisible.
Then in ninth grade, Mrs. McCarthey,
with her disheveled blouses and crowded teeth,
assigned a poem, with a metaphor, not about me,
but a body of light. I wrote about Venus,
First published Blue Patina