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|  BON MOTS

 
  At eight years, Jake stumbles
on written words, each
a hieroglyph. As if
they're in alphabet soup,
the letters float away.
He adds letters from the next word
to the one he's sounding out,
or starts with the last letter,
like a caboose trying hopelessly
to draw the whole train,
not backwards, but through itself.

Anger is useless. Even patience
is a kind of slow anger,
a condescension. Openness,
too vague and soft,
our focus blurs and we drift away
from the book. So it must be love,
that mysterious pinpoint of love,
the exact quadrant
that keeps me in slowness,
to appreciate the unfolding
of clouds one dewdrop at a time.

We examine the word "good".
The back of throat hard guh,
double o sound like "book",
but not long like "food". Duh-duh d,
which he sees as b. I have him spell it
twice g-o-o-d g-o-o-d,
and he finally says "good",
all tension flung
to the walls, harmlessly,
released like a spring.

Good, Jake. Good.
My arms around him,
and I find myself once again
treading in a large lake
of tears, held back only
by thinning walls of skin.


from The Wind is a Tall Man Striding
watershedBooks
2000
Copyright © Jim Slominski