You Were a Writer, Linda


When you read the poem on NPR, 
I knew it was a poem from the very first line.
Because I have heard
this familiar cadence before,
and it affects me 
in a way that steers my voice to eschew words, words like 'eschew',
because poets, like amnesiacs, seek,
y'know, satori.

Everything here is the literary equivalent of the 1930s Continental accent.
It sounds earnest because it is brittle and
sometimes trails off in sentimental reverie...
that tumbles you again, another clutch
of precious memories you encoded in 
snarky phrases written
on the backs of faded Polaroid photos which you found
after the tornado, Linda.
The Tempestous Prognosticator

Read by someone I can 
easily imagine perched
upon a stepstool set atop a small 
pile of household rubble. 
A someone who wants to empathize 
with glue-huffing street orphans,
to convey the awakening
these anecdotes of the weekend in San Paolo
my friends Brenda and Eddie.
Reading the descriptions into a cell phone 
with only minutes left on the battery.

You see in the photos illuminating the warped floorboards of discotheque,
the patrons with drinks and middle-age spread,
the blue smoke in the humid air,
the nixie lights bathing the world in laser lemons,
in sports fans, in bottled mango, in alpenglue
that could not hold Main Street together.

At the terminal, we dispersed like nothing to see here.
But it looked like rain.
And it sounded

are so 
that it makes me think about what all of your friends went through
at the Super 8 in San Paolo.
It should have been wonderful,
if not for the Paris Review.

I reread three pages at the bookstore and realized that
Brenda and Eddie knew something was going to happen, 
according to Linda, 
but Linda always says she knew something was going to happen,
and, like, doesn't say anything until

I think Linda sometimes worries about everything,
and just cashes in on improbable events.

I seized upon the word sprezzatura, 
and then left it there like an
oddly upright piece of furniture
seen atop a pile of household rubble strewn in the path of the tornado,
a stepstool still warm 
from Linda's dance
in San Paolo.

I hear Lizzo's flute on Bird Up.
I see right through her. I can see my earliest memories curled up with other orphans in an abandoned, stripped Lada.

A stepstool in France, with a headful of aguardiente
can hold your spirits just as poorly,
but streets are on fire there.

So I dreamt of bossa nova, 
slept in an old bloodied Cordoba
with gravel in my eyes, 
wedged in a tree,
with not one compound fracture,
but three.

I sat in that tree for two more days yelling
for help
I lost

Amnesia for months. 

She thought the twister had taken me, too. 
And she was telling my ghost how much she missed me,
but her hearing aids were not working,
which I realized when someone drove up in a Humvee
and blasted the horn at her, 
and she didn't react.

Then I passed out. When I awoke,
after surgery,
I found they had sewn parts of my body
that had become mangled in the tornado back inside of it. 

Three fingers, two toes, an ear, my lips, and my genitalia,
all sewn into a cavity in my abdomen. 
They sewed Eddie's big toes onto my hands where my thumbs used to be. 
After six weeks, they put my dangly bits back where they got them.
Eddie, he wanted to be my dad, 
but not like this. 
Brenda would have prayed on his toes on my hands.
She would have done that in a heartbeat.
They found her in a cornfield
thirty miles away,
still holding
a cold

They didn't know Eddie was my foster father. I didn't either.
I had amnesia. 
Eddie and I had matching blood types.
I needed some thumbs.
I got two of my three fingers back.

My foster dad's toes helped me to write an apology
to the Paris Review
in an earnest attempt to
give Linda back what she thought she lost 
in that twister. 
Her voice.

You were supposed to write this, Linda.
That is why I published under your name.
I had no right to do that. 
Please accept
my heartfelt
praya dubia
of a

Not me. You knew my parents better than me.
But I was stuck in a tree, suddenly speaking Portuguese, 
Not in a rev-rev-reverie.


One Reply to “You Were a Writer, Linda”

  1. In the midst of chaos and tragedy, human connection and empathy can provide a glimmer of hope and healing. Thank you for sharing your poignant and thought-provoking poem.


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