"What could be simpler," she asks,
As she asks as if I built this grace that she is;
Asks for all that I give uneasily.
As if I never held her;
As if I never told her.
As if I never wanted to be
What she saw in me.
I am left so quickly to discern
How to talk as I learn.
"Please touch my hair," she says,
Not like the beautician
Who misses the framing of space
In the air that won't
Go where the strong caress
Is barely felt because the hand
Knows more of craft than art
And leaves her humbled by her gain
And anxious to explain.
"Please guide my hands," she pleads:
"It's this that angers the managers
When nothing is said
For days, in which I try so solemnly
To explore just like a surgeon;
To inform myself with figures
As if I never knew how to see,
And needed to feel."
It is still as fragile as glass.
It is both this silence and this lack of mass.
"I am alone," she cries,
"And it's what's
Always depended on me to decide
Which words to ignore; which to hide
For later on, for growing,
For motions that are needed
To rebel against the anger
That is always there.
It's not how I thought I would feel
While this life's mine to steal."
"I feel young," she sings,
I am not the circle
That you close with words
That could never answer my questioning
That learning is engraving
So sternly on my conscience.
Pretending, I am always
This child that somehow knows
The whole of the plan,
All the drama of man."
"I sense you now," she tells me.
In the beautician's careless hands,
In the manager's graceless speech,
In the elder's gentle touch,
In the children's mournful eye:
Because you are there.
Because you are not there."
(C) 1998 Dave Soyars
Originally appeared in Manuscript 42