A kettle boils for lemon tea, its scent
remembered like the chalk
dust of grammar lessons
on a thundery afternoon.
Words steep into endless
weeks of punctuation and run-on
sentences left to boil themselves dry.
But tea is less beverage
than act of literate poise
better kept to the ceremonial.
Lemon dresses it. With a twist,
all is solved in the tongue of ritual.
Do not ask whose tongue.
Do not ask whose ritual.
Do not dilute lemon tea with milk.
Add sweetener, if you like.
It remains lemon tea.
When you raise your eyes
To the punctuated sky, you see
Letters of all scripts, scattered
In mock collage.
When you shield your eyes
From the glory of the sun, you see
The random spatter of the words
That matter most on your palm.
When your eyes no longer see
Anything but a mist of light,
The magnifier that should illumine
Sentences will brand your hand.
When you wish you had never
Known sight, you will listen
For transparent clauses
But hear the lonely Braille of “I.”
About the Poet
Claudia M. Stanek’s chapbook, Language You Refuse to Learn, was a co-winner of Bright Hill Press’s 2013 annual contest. Her work has appeared in Bitterzoet, Ithaca Lit, Sweet Tree Review, Redactions, and Ruminate, among others. In 2010 Claudia was awarded a Writer’s Residency in Bialystok, Poland, where her work has been translated into Polish. Her poem “Housewife” was selected for a commissioned libretto by Judith Lang Zaimont for the Eastman School of Music’s 2009 Women in Music Festival. She holds an MFA from Bennington College. Claudia lives among the birches in East Rochester, NY with her rescued pets.