295: Voice

295: Voice

295: Voice

by Kory Wells

When she’d hand the rope to me,
she could’ve said, Here, jump
on out of my way—

I’ve got laundry to hang,
supper to cook, a shirt to mend,
this book I want to read.

She’d already taught me
Miz Mary Mac, those silver buttons,
all the other singsong rhymes.

Now she was teaching me
about metaphor, otherwise known as
pretend. She could’ve said, Here,

this is a snake—pretend
it wants to bite you, but
she was not teaching me to fear.

She could’ve said, Here,
find someone to play tug-of-war,
but she was not teaching me

to require the presence
of others. She could’ve said,
Here, this is how you make

a noose, but she was not
teaching me violence
or hatred. No,

my mother handed me
one end of that rope
secured in a stiff knot

and said, Here,
this is a microphone.
What can you sing?

"Voice," by Kory Wells, from SUGAR FIX by Kory Wells, copyright © 2019 Terrapin Books. Used by permission of Terrapin Books.