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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 2, June 2017

Doris Lynch
Bloomington, Indiana, USA

The Hurdle of the First Word

“There are connections everywhere, everything sounds like a poem, everything’s the beginning of a poem.”
                                                                         —Li-Young Lee

The lowest elm branch when you were seven or eight, just three or four inches too high. The leap and wrapping of hands around it that allowed you to pull yourself up—feet sliding on the slippery trunk—the only obstacle to climbing to the heights.

The first time hitchhiking, those wary steps alone to the edge of the highway, the turning of the body into the roar of traffic, that first hesitant raising of a thumb.

Snapping the clamps shut on your first skis, the frightening push-off from the peak of the “baby” mountain into cold, steep down.

Writing your first poem, randomly opening the dictionary to “regret” but rejecting it for “knead,” realizing that a poem’s first word should serve only as a guidepost, one of myriad possibilities.

first time
she saw the blueing
fingers of death



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