Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Letters Learn to Breathe Twice

When the danger of fire has passed,
  the children (even when wanting to text)
form letters with pencils,
   tracing gray skin around
the unsayable while geese honk              ~
     overhead oñ-oñ-oñ- in their                    ~ ~
wedge of funny adults. The children                   ~  ~ ~
       try to be normal, though                            ~ ~
no one knows what normal is …

      In nearby gardens, the unwanted
dandelion: Taraxacum officionale. A large
squash prepares for harvest, its S-shaped
      stem with moisture bent.
Children braid languages & some
      are praised for confidence but who
praises the garden for all that breath?

The cheerful mild constant anxiety
      of your childhood turned
to writing, then meaning came
with its invincible glare—; the page
    had borders but no limit—
& you loved letters then,
               their breath allowed not
to decide as it curved between
skin-bearer & the being said—

Credit


From Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (Wesleyan University Press, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Brenda Hillman. Used with permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Author


Brenda Hillman

Brenda Hillman is the author of ten poetry collections, including Extra Hidden Life, among the Days (Wesleyan University Press, 2018). She received the Academy of American Poets Fellowship in 2012 and currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Date Published: 2018-10-23

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/letters-learn-breathe-twice