You cannot say it without meaning
something particular and peculiar.
It’s a lonely syllable, forgotten
in a child’s mouth, out of tune
with the cavernous song of you.
It overshadows. It is
a tree among stumps—
its top branches,
its sturdy roots,
away from itself.
It dresses in an emperor’s clothes,
likes to be dominant and predominant
upon the tongues of everyone.
More a vow than a vowel,
it’s an open-mouthed sounding.
Some chant it, as if repetition
will bring it into being. But it’s nothing
without you to give it something
to speak of.
Perhaps that’s why it’s constantly striving
to fill up the scrawny scratching, its hunger
for the one thing it will never become—you.
Perhaps that’s why it chalks
straight lines until they become
bars, barricading a view of an unfettered
expanse, its longing to be something other
than a crisis or contradiction.
And perhaps that’s why it envies
those unplowed fields growing
a horizon, the wide, taunting sky,
the unselfconscious sun illuminatingall of it.
© Ami Mattison