Heather McHugh



Content enough– the shredded shirt you stir into the paper mix, the red dirt in the rubric’s raw. From the start the artist in me yearned to blow up letters– zoom way into them, past legibility’s franchise.  It tore into their tucked beds, tickled their entailments, swore by their heavenly serifs, learned by ear. If read seems red-lined, poems are places for blues to throb through.

Among the language arts and sciences, it was the poems felt most sensual.  They kept their senses close at hand. They meant without so many mediations; more immediately, meant before I could manage or mind. I loved my grammars with a passion, studied their moves and mined their mechanisms. To get through fields of words, say French or English, I would have to set off seedpods, springbursts, shrapnel. Tympanies to travel faster than we could, who shook or shouted through; the drums and tones bespoke the way we felt, bang bang, beyond intending.

The lecture’s just conjecture; but the texture’s everywhere conjunct. From the first outburst of birth it tripped upon your lips– your own particulars– and soon was whipped into the family shape, the tribal premises. Loquacious as locality, in time its terms were traveled or troubled a bit– but the diction was always the friction– as close as your tongue and as far as your fatherings.

Wandering fields on its tractions, you shared its distractions, its rub on the road; the licks of your lingo were everywhere trimming the thinking, and sexing the text. It’s the hook of the meander, the shag of the weave and the wave in the air.  It’s the burr in the look, and the stickiness there in the stare. It’s the world in the book.  It’s the goosebumps all over the gander.