Friday, 10 August 2018

N


I do not say,
‘Today, I will write a poem
about a flute,
or wallpaper,
or the letter Q,’
although, I now realise,
this is exactly what I have just said.
Yesterday, as I wrote –
not about a flute,
or wallpaper,
or the letter Q
I noticed that a clumsy capital N
of mine
looked identical
to the clumsy capital N
of my father’s;
the clumsy capital N
which started the second half
of his illegibly scrawled signature
on his marriage certificate.
The awkwardness of my handwriting
is a tedious thing.
That my e is indistinguishable from a c,
or an undotted i,
is the least of its problems.
My pencil jerks across the page
with two left feet,
failing to keep pace
with whatever thought is currently being let loose,
and often,
while this is happening:
blunders, blunders, everywhere.
There is not a single letter
which hasn’t concussed itself
as it’s fallen out of my pencil;
each minor head trauma
making the letter look
not quite itself,
as it balances ridiculously
on the line.
My disregard
for legibility
is not a constant thing:
some of my redrafts
are as legible and consistent
as any handwriting fusspot
could hope to see.
Oh, yes, I can write neatly
when the words are already there,
and I can see from my father’s notebook,
that this was the same for him,
another little clue about how we may be connected.
And so I dwell
on why the signature on his marriage certificate
was so hastily scratched, so illegible,
so like mine when I am elsewhere,
while my hand is in the room,
holding the pencil.