Life-film of black and white in minor keys. There lies the augmented self. A reaching —not forward—but back,
down, in. Where notes once slid freely to major, were unchained in C, the root of
Sunday afternoons, children’s silhouettes outside panes of leaded glass,
two adults sitting at an oak table, newspapers spread, agrément of tapping
as a girl’s feet pressed pedals, released sounds held for longer than designed, catching like moths
the vibrating chords, as if able to join the diminished triads, the double sharp arpeggios--
the notes heard in different ways by different ears, altered by the unreachable pinblock bridge of time.
How do we measure this hourly life, the nightly case of pedals? We look for notes even in the shutting of eyes, of lids.
She was told at eight she had the disease. The doctors shook their heads gravely, Her mother fed her voraciously. She has thedisease, her teachers whispered, looking from side to side to make sure no one overheard, as if it might be contagious: worse than a pig-like flu or any helminthologic substance known to man or beast (as these come and go in every school). Her mother’s mouth dropped open.
They soon learned that she had a more virulent strain of the sad illness. It was not easy for anyone, least of all her. The way they pushed themselves into her, pushed their way out of her. She took them and smeared them all over her, like a child in the playground who loves mud too well. I remember the time she tried to purge herself of the disease. She was in college and her bones began to show. Ah, the thousand petite morts of the etymologist. They will eat her alive. And they don’t even have any brains.
She smiles, insists, I am not sick. I just love the bella viaggio of the dictionary, the playful romp with the word of the day, I eat these wormy strings until, like tapeworms, they wriggle through my body. Look at the way my fingers move. I do not mind. I want no cure.
Such a shame, they sigh. And she was pretty, too. (There’s nothing wrong with television!) Her eyes light up in response. As if worms spell tragedy.
-- Andrea Witzke Slot is author of the poetry collection To find a new beauty(Gold Wake Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in such places as Tupelo Quarterly, Borderlands, Verse Daily, Southern Women’s Review, and Translation Review, while her scholarly essays on dialogic poetry and social change are forthcoming in critical collections from SUNY Press and Palgrave Macmillan. Andrea teaches at UIC and is an associate editor at Rhino Poetryas well as the book review editor at Fifth Wednesday Journal. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, the youngest of her five children/stepchildren, and her crazy West Highland Terrier, Macbeth. Learn more at http://www.andreawitzkeslot.com.