Rebecca Foust

Family Grammar

1. Diction

Oh what’s the use in tinkering, dialing
in each word, memory for desire
so the reader can share the feeling
without feeling lectured? Does the fire
care what phrase names its fierce thirst
or on which beat I break the line?
What metaphor can loosen the vise
closing the actual throat—not just mine,
but hers from an actual tumor—
Mom’s face under her sad, festive turban
while she chose the clothes and shoes
to wear for her cremation? There’s no use
here for words, the vaunted largesse
of English, or any language. Not for this.

2. Point of View

Well, what the hell else is there to do
besides sling words like arrows back
into Fortune’s outrageous face? If there’s
an alternative palliative, please
tell me now. The eyes see. My mother’s agon,
each time I raise my voice to my child.
What the hand did. In order to parse
the sentence of the family romance,
diagram it, then repeat it verbatim;
it will not mind being told in a different voice
or from variant points of view:
I, you, he, she, it, we or they
did it to me, you, him, her, us, or them,
or had it done. And so continue to do.