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Tuesday, May 19, 2020


by Barbara Simmons

Build-up, they call it, the slow accretion colorless
at first. Later I guess you’d think my teeth had bathed
in egg yolk if I’d let it go that far. Especially if I were smiling today.
But today, I’m not thinking recession as in my gums, but as in
our economy, how the graphs display the V’s that look like troughs
not mountains. Feels too much like my slackline has no anchors,
that I’ll be eternally between, above, not able to begin or end. Reminds
me of those hemlines we called handkerchief, the 70’s loved them, I
loved them, made me feel that I was whirling standing still. More standing
still on stars or footprints or just blue tape lined up outside Target
or the post office, I’m wondering if last night’s dreams are still available,
shelved someplace, line forming here, I’d even pay for their retrieval. Lost
moments, lines breaking up. I’m back inside my mouth, imagining what they’ll
find after I’m beyond words. Not anything as artful as the lapus lazuli
the 1000-year old teeth held, medieval teeth, medieval scribe, medieval woman
breathing in the bright blue pigment, licking her brush while blue began
its residence in her mouth. What would my mouth hold—a piece of jasmine rice,
the inhalation of surprise and joy, the drupelets of a final raspberry, the
exhalation of all the lines I’d thought about and haven’t had a chance to write.

Barbara Simmons grew up in Boston, now resides in San Jose, California—the two coasts inform her poetry. A graduate of Wellesley College, she received an MA in The Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins. As a secondary school English teacher, she loved working with students who inspired her to think about the many ways we communicate. Retired, she savors smaller parts of life and language, exploring words as ways to remember, envision, celebrate, mourn, and, always, to try to understand more about being and living and expressing her identity and human-ity. Publications have included, among others, The Quince, Santa Clara Review, Hartskill Review, Boston Accent,  TheNewVerse.News, Soul-Lit, 300 Days of Sun, Capsule Stories: Isolation Edition and Perspectives on KQED, the NPR local affiliate.