When she says the word nice,
it comes out mice and scampers
away. She likes the way its toenails
click on the linoleum, its pink tail
slipping behind the pantry. How its tiny
teeth bite deep, sending large men
to the hospital for a vaccination,
something to stop the throbbing.
When she says the word pretty,
it's a game of Twister: elbows pinched
behind knees, firm breasts and trim waists
tangled 'round her buttered pounds of know-how.
She reaches for the red spot, an ugliness
in her hips as she watches the small bodies
crumble around her, collapsing in a lovely,
sweaty heap, anxious to play again.
When she says the word smart,
numbers start cramming their countless bodies
forward and history commences its timeline
to the stage. Political parties leap in all jacked up
on say-so and some riotous memory of Sid Vicious —
a mindless mental mosh pit — until someone
gets hurt. There's a story, but nobody's talkin'.
The silence is like a rhyme that doesn't.
People ask her for words all the time
and she is generous. It's her finest quality,
this dictionary of giving, the closest thing
she has to a mirror, the words looking back
as she lets them go, knowing they will return
when all has been said and love
has no other name to call itself.
—Leslie Anne Mcilroy
Leslie Anne Mcilroy won the 2001 Word Press Poetry Prize for her full-length collection Rare Space and the 1997 Slipstream Poetry Chapbook Prize for her chapbook Gravel. Her second book, Liquid Like This, was published by Word Press. Leslie's work appears in Connotation Press, Dogwood, Jubilat, The Mississippi Review, New Ohio Review, Nimrod International Journal of Prose & Poetry, PANK. Pearl and more. Leslie is managing and poetry editor of HEArt — Human Equity through Art, and works as a copywriter. She lives in Wilkinsburg. For more: lamcilroy.org. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Saturday morning on 90.5 FM.