I can still hear my mother saying patience
after waiting for the word to arrive
from the clue, a virtuous quality—
there was always sunlight streaming
into the kitchen, tea steaming
At ten, I liked the impermanence of pencil
so I could erase the answers I thought to be true.
So my favorite six letter words used to imply
a tenuous existence like mirage, affair, cobweb.
Now, twenty years later
I have unlearned all those words (except for patience)
and I prefer a more permanent vocabulary:
words like faith, smile, adopt.
My favorite word, Eugene O’Neill’s
_________ Under the Elms (six letters)
is synonymous with love, war, future
I have learned a tabby is a female domestic cat
and conbrio means with musical vigor,
and that no human emotion is black and white—
colors reserved for piano keys or tuxedos.
Even crossword puzzles in the Sunday
Times are mirages down a long, winding road,
stars emerging for the night,
you behind the wheel, dreaming
of all the beautiful words you can ___________.
(Lennon tune, seven letters)
Originally published in the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Vol. 21, No. 1