Words | Sojourners


While he was in jail, two policemen
came to his apartment, took
all his books, sat at his kitchen table
drinking his coffee, and cut out
the forbidden words: kitchen
was first to go; kiss, kissing, lemon.
They were on a roll. Library went,
then lips. His wife looked on
in silence, her arms crossed. So they
cut out silence. They backtracked
to arms, breast, breasts, chest.

The floor was overflowing with tiny
snowflakes engraved with bed, door
dancing, running, open. They were
on fire, cutting whole phrases:
Tomato soup is not merely physical
—from an essay on poetry.
From Spinoza’s Ethics:
All things excellent are difficult
and rare. When they finished
they collected their snowflakes,
and his wife re-shelved the books.

Later they released him, and he ran home.
Dancing through the open door, he kissed
his wife, took her in his arms and to bed.
It was not merely physical, or difficult,
or rare (Spinoza notwithstanding).
And his library grew many new words.

R.M. Blair facilitates weekly poetry workshops for guests at Miriam’s Kitchen, a Washington, D.C.-based service center for homeless women and men.

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