window on my part-time employer in the one building that was once two

i’m writing to the building of writing that is continually giving us the boot. writing alone can’t hold it up. i want to say writing created it, but it might have just assisted. and yet writing is its own building. writing extends the building. i’m from a long line of building extenders, a line that was broken. that line can be broken. it can be outlawed and driven out of town, the word finding refuge in the mountain, the mouth, the memory. it can be fired and replaced, a thread erased. it can’t all be put down. it rises up an ancestor told me. a few ancestors told me that. i will be an ancestor telling you to rise up. but as a present-day person I tend to lay there. i’ve been thrust from the building of letters, syllables, characters. they’re scattered and i lack the will to gather them. it is fine to lay among them. let them scramble. eventually i will get up and put them together again. it won’t be like i imagined. it will be.

immediate post-script
for a minute there, my keyboard stopped working. i was talking about letters and they wouldn’t come. i did not lay calmly. it was not a calm, it was a panic. i am wrong to say i could be so calm. i would fight for a while. i would fight to get back to the letter, to get back to the building, fight to make a new one.

Copyright © 2021 by Sheila Maldonado. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 14, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.