The Geography of Cursive Indentations on the Letter Pad On My Mother’s Desk After Her Death

By Jeff Burt

My fingers searched in the hidden treble clefs
of paper for words that had been written
on one page and pressed into another,

hidden in the geography of cursive indentations
like claws grasping by parentheses, fingertips
tracing scripts not made of ink but pencil,

not something well-flowed but scratched
hard, deep into vanilla paper,
strings of words in haste, need,

approximation, hunger, arches, loops,
whorls I bring back to understand,
to comprehend my mother’s compression.

Jeff Burt lives in California with his wife amid the redwood and two-lane roads wide enough for one car. He has work in Thrice Fiction, The Nervous Breakdown, Agave, Watershed Review, Amarillo Bay, work forthcoming in Per Contra. He was the featured summer issue poet of Clerestory, won the 2011 SuRaa short fiction award, and been nominated for a Best of the Net Award.