Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

What is the C-Word?

What is the C-Word?
Photograph via Flickr by Victor

The C-word in his text
joined the B-word he left
on the phone message,
before he shouted the A-word.
And when a child asked: what is the C-word?
I thought I would say to her: Child, it’s the
letter the moon makes when it is almost ending
but does not end. It’s the branch the dog drags,
with more ambition than sense.
It’s the scythe that slices the long wheat
but not below the root, the root.
I form one as I squat under the heavy bar on my shoulders;
and another curls where the smooth plane crosses wood.
Three when the mouth smiles but the eyes are sad
a single in the palm scoop cold water from the pump.
Then I realized that the child thought it was the word for child.
And I wanted to say, listen, don’t reach for metaphors.
Be blunt
And I wanted to say, listen, don’t be sad.
Tell the damning one,
you do not even begin to know
what alphabet lives in me.