Poem

The Alphabetizer Speaks

Patty Seyburn

I have my reasons

have never known starvation nor plenitude
and unless the order of the world
changes, I won’t.
If the order of the world changes, I will
disappear, the way some vowels
elide into their word-bodies
or an individual blade recedes
into a field each season.

Will my daughter carry on this way?
I cannot yet tell her qualities—
if she prefers scale to chance, sequence to random.
And this may mean nothing.
I find chaos theory appealing, and eavesdrop on talk
of black holes, chasms, any abyss
that fetters sense. I relish
the desultory in many matters,
am slovenly, a slacker, a slave to caprice.
Except with the letters.

There is such thing as a calling
though I cannot speak for prophets or martyrs.
I have been summoned
by people of stature and the low-stationed,
comrade and debutante alike.
My eyes suffer, and my hands, my back.

I am my profession. It is no whim.
I do not want the world a certain way.
The world is that way, and I am a vehicle
on the road of nomenclature. I tend the road.

In my dream, all events coterminous—
no linear narrative, preceding or next.
The odd vignette, lone scene, an image
in isolation, no neighbors.
Then I awaken and pace
my thin balcony, calculating
how much of me waits above, how much
lives below, and I pose
the question of balance. My name
cues the turn home.

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