Today's poem is by Rita Mae Reese

Key to Pronunciation: /sälm/

Truly, thou unlock the spoken word
so that nothing I imagined to say
might be restrained from this rough tongue

snaking up from my peasant heart.
Yea, though I talk through the valley
of the Great Vowel Shift, I fear no

suprasegmentals. Thy virgules
and thy stress marks, they comfort me.
Though I've always licked words

the wrong way and left teeth marks
in their too-soft flesh, thou art patient.
Thou leadest me safely past the land mine

at the beginning of psalm. Thou
makest me a table in the presence
of dipthongs and diacritics. Thou

greaseth my tongue with lateral
approximants and trills. Surely,
eloquence and clarity shall follow me

all the days of my life, and hard words
will dwell tenderly in my mouth forever.

Copyright © 2006 Rita Mae Reese All rights reserved
from the Southern Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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