Speaking Cursive
Michael Sandler

Speaking Cursive

I learned it from the willow,
live oak, and eucalyptus,
a coursing through lipped leaves
that didn’t fret to pronounce it—
sap quivering
along a grained palate to thrum
from heartwood to crown—swelling
in a wind-rush through boughs . . .

The brook offered another dialect,
a liquid lingua lapping
like a bay, a bee’s sibilant murmur,
its fluent glide
a welling resonance,
no pipes to funnel
or staves to sluice it—
it hummed to a smooth velum . . .

A welcome run of voice
and, for the boy,
it once seemed quite enough—
until classrooms chiseled it
to block letters of ordinary talk,
scattering chalk dust.
I’m left with words that can’t enact
the dream, its flow and soughing,
cultured words, tribal syntax.
I never asked
to occlude those perfectly childish leaves.

Michael Sandler

has contributed poems to scores of journals, including Arts & Letters, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Zone 3. His first collection, The Lamps of History, was published in 2021 by FutureCycle Press. He lives near Seattle.