She drives for hours,

quizzing herself with answers

then rushing to press the horn.

She knows the answers are the easy part,

what’s given.


She worries she may forget

to phrase her responses

in the form of a question,

so she has taken to speaking

only in interrogatives: What is

I am fine? What is nice

to meet you?


The inventor of the gyroscope:

Who is Foucault? The capital of Qatar:

What is Doha? How much, though,

is enough? Talus, cuneiform, navicular:

bones of the foot. Chou, Han, Sui:

dynasties of China.

She considers herself an expert

on the Reign of Terror,

the Hundred Years War,

the Spanish Inquisition.


She notes how flawlessly the host

takes letters from any language

and sets them right, perfect accent

and more: the French eyebrow,

the German set of chin.

She could tell him anything

and he would take the jumbled

pidgin of her uncertainty,

give it back eloquent and correct.


Cautious, even questions

she phrases as questions:

What is how are you?

What is what’s that

supposed to mean?







Photo by Steve Jurvetson