The opposite of striking him.
It is gawky to say.
Speech, a loose tooth.

That I’m in love I can’t.
Wasps and wisps of words. My minutiae sentiments
could make your mind pruney. What if I fixate

on a M.O.M.A. Pollock, Echo, till drip lines
are dozens of shoelaces, tipped with lacquer and raging.
Daily strands: Me, too, I… or That reminds me of…

Angling. Gawky, really gawky with this is where I went and what I did.
When I am the conversationalist
the less patient fi xate on a point

by my voile head. Mental pushpins scrape me:
the bored post notes.
Wholly detached listeners cast documents

right over my face, cutting and pasting text.
I myself concentrate on a speaker’s lock of hair
just so I’m not waiting to chime.

As I was saying. When he held me, I was not a boring person.

Embarrassing, the need to peep, this saturation.
Forgive me. One I adore absorbs
my excess speech (her eyeglasses solar panels).

Another I adore fields my prattle
despite her burning focaccia. All my talking
and I forget to charge the cordless. One who is

my poet-cousin—whom I also adore, and
shortly I would like to say more about her—
fi nds humor in that juiceless telephone.

Through my answering machine, gleeful-sweet:
I feel helpless because I can’t hear you! Now I add
there is a gallantry to her poems.

I can’t not say: the particulars of his handholding.

From Echolalia Copyright © 2006 by Deborah Bernhardt. By permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.