For a Plain Man by Marianne Burton

For a plain man you have fancy writing.
It announces itself on envelopes
in a fanfare of loops and curlicues.
Your letters clasp hands to dance galliards,
throw each other through the air, swooping
down lower than is strictly legible,
deeper than any teacher would have ever ticked.

You must have practiced it under the desk
of the village school that wrote you off,
with short blunt pencils and scraps of paper
salvaged and stored in the empty inkwells,
working up rococo scripts whimsical
enough to summarise the man you prayed
you would become, just to spite them.

None of it comforts you of course. Not
your florid penmanship, nor the fact that
you are now important. The child still sits
under an alphabet frieze in cheap clothes,
tight-lipped, trying to coil his pot hooks into Os
of wonder and praise. You can’t get back
to tell him it worked out. None of us can.


Date: 2013

By: Marianne Burton (19??- )


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