The Shadows of Words
I can't imagine a mother calling her child that I remember I used to fumble my words shy away always feigning ignorance I'd laugh at anyone who would even want to talk to me back when I'd grown dark enough to understand why the cops would pull me off the sidewalk and ask where I was going ne-ne-neh-nowhere sir I would stutter even as I knew what I just said would make them laugh and wink at each other even though I knew I could walk down any street even some they'd never go to through that memory I saw a child catching her words whenever I raised my voice or spoke directly to her or when she pretended not to know how to add subtract or push a button on a register or the least thing about the subtleties in human language anything that required confidence I felt that word lingering in the way she cast her eyes in her supplicated smile that touched me like a burning memory I am ashamed of and in the way it shied behind the reasons why we loved each other I would try to encourage her demonstrate how she could do things for herself ask for raises find out how she could finish college an educated professional years later her mother's voice would wax and she'd curl up to me too much and I couldn't shake her I couldn't figure out what made me finally overcome that feeling some cops and fathers leave you with sometimes I fall momentarily back to that young man who chased cum laude degrees through half my life and still I feel those cops and that word that they didn't even have to say like I can imagine her mother often did
From Acts of Love by Edgar Gabriel Silex. Copyright © 2004 by Edgar Gabriel Silex. Published by Curbstone Press. Distributed by Consortium Book Sales & Dist. Reprinted by permission of Curbstone Press. All rights reserved.