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Paul Hostovsky: Wording

Every poem should have a bird in it — Mary Oliver


Cynosure, gravid, pabulum–

just three of the many

unusual specimens 

I’d been lucky enough to glimpse

in the last few days.

And then at the dentist

I heard risible singing 

from behind my hygienist’s 

face mask: “These muscles 

around your mouth,” she said,

“are your risible muscles,”

and I reached for my metaphorical 

binoculars and feasted 

on risible perched at the edge 

of that noun phrase, 

where I’d never seen it before. 

It was a rare sighting and I could sense 

the dinosaur DNA of that dactyl

going all the way back to the Old French rire,

and the Latin ridere, and maybe

I felt a little ridiculous 

as I offered her my invisible

binoculars and she declined because 

she was wearing a face shield 

over her face mask, and her hands were full

of my teeth. Nevertheless, I know she appreciated

risible the way I appreciated it

when I heard its song–which sounds like 

laughter–emanating from her own mouth

as I sat there with my mouth open

wider than song, wider than laughter, 

as wide as a baby-bird mouth.

Paul Hostovsky’s many books of poetry include Is That What That Is (FutureCycle Press, 2017). He makes his living in Boston as an ASL interpreter and Braille instructor.

Copyright 2020 Paul Hostovsky

4 comments on “Paul Hostovsky: Wording

  1. abby zimet
    December 11, 2020

    risible muscles: love it, especially these dark days. thanks for the reprieve

    Liked by 1 person

  2. loranneke
    December 8, 2020

    Delightful poem!


  3. Barbara Huntington
    December 8, 2020

    I love to hear those birds sing

    Liked by 1 person

  4. rosemaryboehm
    December 8, 2020

    I am an old (very) fan of Paul’s poetry. This made me smile with my risible muscles.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on December 8, 2020 by in Humor and Satire, Poetry and tagged , , , .

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