blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



The Speaking Book

          Old Salem Toy Museum

Agreed: we need a new lexicon.

Flat sky at the end of summer,
yellow light a half-moon lemon floating
on the surface of a drink.

Through the car window, our daughters’ hair
threaded with rain.

Inside the toy museum, the train loops and shrinks
round and round
beside the glass case of German children’s books.

The older girl lifts her hand to the sky: “It’s winding!”

In my notebook I write: the rocking horse
was a popular nineteenth-century studio prop
when posed with children.

But this is copying, not inhabiting language.

In the book farm animals speak.
The rubber horse, lung-colored, the cow
with its stitched skin.

I write: how does the book become a relic.
how does the book become a talisman.

Together, we love these girls fiercely.

This is inhabiting our life together.

The girls’ childhoods already shrinking.

Outside the museum the books pages unfasten from the spine
            the ducks take flight
            the cows the horses stand up   walk out   beyond

The space between us shrinking—
What divides the beginning from the after?

all of it a spell against the missing  

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