" ... the crunch and snap of bone and nerve made you immortal ..."


Linda Sue recommends these on line literary sites.


Ms. Park

Linda Sue Park

English as a Second Language

    -- for my students

You have taught me
that it is a guerilla language,
fraught with hidden danger.
The if that waits in ambush--
Had I been late,
you would have left without me.

The devious codes for the unwritten--
gonna, wanna, shoulda.
The booby traps in reading aloud--
dough, through, bough, enough.

I try to turn the war
into a game. We act out
vocabulary, play grammar tag--
I fool none of you. You know
the losing battle that lies ahead:
a movie where everyone is laughing
except you.

What can I give you, these few
hours a week, sealed up
in a room with a dictionary or two?
There are no secret weapons.

Only the four meanings of the word spring.


Furrow brow in concentration.
Wrinkle nose in disgust.
Smile warmly.

What remains, after a break
of the spinal cord at the second
cervical vertebrae? All of the above
is not all. In that tank of a chair
you've become the measure
of how I move, and how far.
Mouthstick maestro of the keyboard,
your words reach farther now
than they did before the fall,
keeping in touch as your hands
never will again, never did back then
either. You should have become vague
in my recall, a faded face in a yearbook;
instead, the crunch and snap
of bone and nerve made you
immortal, gave you to me like a brass-
knuckled blow that split the skin
of indifference. The scar healed
pink, keloid: I cannot wink
without seeing you.

The Fitting Room

We gaze thoughtfully at three of you
as you say, "This would have fit last week."
You turn your shoulders and pull at the loose fabric
around your new breasts, a size smaller
than the old ones. I've heard some
and want to hear more about when they took
one side first, and how, uncentered,
you had them take the other as well.
It was clear but who knew; you didn't want
that worry on top of all the others, the wigs
and the vomiting and the lawsuit
for a misread mammogram. You were stretched
and stuffed and sewn closed, but I don't ask
to see because you don't offer. I go out to fetch
the next size down, I push aside hanger after hanger
and want to weep when I can't find it
in teal, only raspberry. When I get back to the room
with its bright hard reflections, you hold the raspberry up
against your unfamiliar curves. "Not your color,"
I say. You reply, "Did I tell you? If I'm good,
the family is giving me nipples for Christmas,"
and we laugh, our eyes meeting only in the glass.