Nebraska Center for Writers

by Sarah Lihz Staroska

The written word was not my first love.
I first fell for the soft sounds of lips
and tongue touching the secret spaces between them.

clung to the rhythm of the meter and the rhyme
at a time when I reveled in their magic.
At 16 years old, holding my birth certificate
exclaiming, "Shoot, I really am your kid, aren't I."

I spoke in symphonies for you to hear me.
Timpanies tingling over baritones
building walls for you to walk through with the last clash of my tongue
tickling the roof of my mouth as it echoed into silence.

I now understand how a woman
can wound a man with nothing more than words.

It's the only time I've ever seen my father cry
and I have since swallowed novels. Filed volumes
of my old dustry words alphabetically by the author's last name.
I lie to strangers about him on tiptoes and in whispers.
I yarn them well; adorn our illustrious relationship
with the angora sweater he gave me for Christmas. Stretch
the sleeves over the doorway, a welcome sign
saying "Daddy paid for this" and I grimace.
Like it's nothing I didn't know. I fell in love with language
but I can't say that because at six cents a syllable, sound is money;
I'll never make sense to him.

Reprinted with permission
Copyright © 2004
by Sarah Lihz Staroska

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