“They Flick their Tails Right and Left as I Speak Them”*

Self-conscious about the words
she chooses, silence hangs
a mesh net over the scene
outside the window.

Selfies taken on a pedestrian
bridge become art hung on a wall
inside a half-crowded,
half-empty coffee bar.

What would Virginia do?
She seeks to describe a world
without the self
by messing with pronouns.

Nobody’s fool
fools nobody.

She may need
to drop her phone
into a gutter,
use her naked eyes

to watch startled geese
speckle the northern sky.

I may need
to reread The Waves.
Give all pronouns a rest.
Name the thing itself.

Let cloud ingredients decide
crush or crash,
observe or obscure,
frame or release,

abstract or wing-shaped
and shrinking fast.

* Bernard in The Waves, by Virginia Woolf.

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