Duplo City

So much I’ve filled my father and my mother up with words

they have become descriptions of themselves.


I promise this page this book will end when Emma remembers

and remembering, gives names.


Silently today she stacks three hollow blocks of Duplo one by one

on the foundation of a longer block before her.


Silently, as in, an achievement of the body, herself as yet

unspoken, undoubled by her tongue’s utterance of I –


sign of that which thinks, unperceived perceiver, precursor

of pure reason and its result: master, slave, self, syllable by syllable


built by language in the hollows of her mouth, current theory says,

so language can be used.


Into her silent body I’ve read the I I’ve already made of myself.

If she can mean nothing (if that is an ideal), it is not to me.


Right now, a silent baby places her toys in order while her father

watches outside her field of vision, and writes, now,


years away from the moment she can read this page and tell me

if I kept my word.


from Big Breath of a Wish (Wolsak and Wynn, 1998), Richard Harrison 1998, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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