Will You Line Up the Children?

Blackboard by Bjørn Egil Johansen

For pigtails, balance beams, cracks to break your mother’s back. Everything, lines.

I wrote loops, not over and over but forward and forward and
my line was a graphite bow, a graphite flight performing an air show, a telephone cord to
stories and signatures, a sideways gallop.

Put a word in. Even bird. Not even a kind of bird.
I would write that bird to be a lace bird a paltry bird a saffron sparkle word bird.

That year all the words would fall into my lines.

Even chair for you to sit down while my line kept going.
I would learn cursive and go.
I was a dot in Minnesota on I-90. I had learned about the west and the east.

A ray is a dot with a line leaving it that never ends.

This young thing wants to pirouette on the power lines.
This young thing says his thoughts are kite string.

I am putting children in all of my lines—

I have a tightrope to skim above the sea. An assembly line of square cheese. Language meet lines. Lines meet language. Those Cy Twombly chalk squiggles. Knots of excuses. Flâneur through garbage. A stomp to the bus.

Children, fall into me. Make breasts, silhouettes. I’ve been writing lines all of this time.


Click here to read Carrie Oeding on the origin of the poem.

Carrie Oeding: I know those pieces by Cy Twombly aren’t actually chalk, but they’re reminiscent of chalkboard writing without using words. But they’re language to me. They remind me of the excitement I felt when young, drawing the same line squiggle over and over and wondering of what life could be like as an adult. Anticipation was connected to those lines. Their repetition, too, felt like its own potential.

Photo ” Blackboard” by Bjørn Egil Johansen; licensed under CC BY 2.0

Carrie Oeding
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