I walk with walking sticks now. Spine damage.
Always clumsy, now I’m clumsier.
I give you my poetry as clumsy, too,
As a performance.
I take a word, a long ungainly adverb instead of a short, blunt Anglo-Saxonism
Try to carry it, let’s say – surreptitiously – a romance language-rooted word,
Blurry with syllables,
Into a room sideways, under one arm, one walking stick in the other hand
Only to have the word hit the door frame, and me to be pushed back a step.
I draw back from neat language, like Wordle’s – check, crisp, waist, snort
And words like my mother trying to assimilate, ones that aren’t Anglo-Saxon
But weigh like them – judge, repugnant, respectable, force.
I choose to be a tongue mutt, mixing long words like romantically with
Key short words like fresh, cute, straight, queer, bi –
A tongue explorer, who bounces back a step
And then walks into a room, stick first, tongue second,
Holding ungraceful and taut, together.