The First Phrase

“What’s the first sexscancspoemy or suckering phrase you read which made you point at the page..and deep breathe-in and go, shit, that’s what I want to do?” asked Weston Cutter in Ploughshares of the divine Olena Kalytiak Davis. She quoted Robert Hass:

All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.

As to her reasoning, she said “I think I fell in love with the possibility/pacing of this kind of logic.”

Of course, I immediately wondered what was my first suckering phrase and, barring juvenalia, remembered a Charlie Smith poem I once, in August 1992, ripped from The New Yorker and taped to my West 13th Street kitchen wall.

You come in dream Mother, or not at all,
Distressed by drugs, scattering quips, complaining how they torture you.

(Excuse the paraphrase. This quote is from memory.)

What was the draw? Do I even want to know? Enough that I telephoned the man and became a girlfriend of five years. While pondering this I turned to the first line of a poem he wrote for me when the five years were over — or at least, I assume it was for me — as it is dedicated to L.W. my initials at the time.

A quiet joy appears amid loneliness, doesn’t
replace it.


About louisewleonard

Author of 52 Men, Since You Ask, and others Also in The Rumpus, Tin House, Fiction Advocate, Gargoyle.
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