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  • Dave Soyars

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"What could be simpler," she asks,

"Than this."

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,

"Like this."

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,

"And still

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.

"Right now.

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





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