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English Flavors

  I love to lick English the way I licked the hard

round licorice sticks the Belgian nuns gave me for six

good conduct points on Sundays after mass.

  Love it when ‘plethora’, ‘indolence’, ‘damask’,

or my new word: ‘lasciviousness,’ stain my tongue,

thicken my saliva, sweet as those sticks—black

  and slick with every lick it took to make daggers

out of them: sticky spikes I brandished straight up

to the ebony crucifix in the dorm, with the pride

  of a child more often punished than praised.

‘Amuck,’ ‘awkward,’ or ‘knuckles,’ have jaw-

breaker flavors; there’s honey in ‘hunter’s moon,’

  hot pepper in ‘hunk,’ and ‘mellifluous’ has aromas

of almonds and milk. Those tastes of recompense

still bittersweet today as I roll, bend and shape

  English in my mouth, repeating its syllables

like acts of contrition, then sticking out my new tongue—

flavored and sharp—to the ambiguities of meaning.

from The Hour Between Dog & WolfFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 1997
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Laure-Anne Bosselaar Poems

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