from A Reading

by Beverly Dahlen

zero zero three eight. nine five seven six. two eight five one zero. zero zero zero nine. five nine four one. one one eight. four three one seven. seven five six. one. four eight two one. five two some one. some one two ones. those ones. any one. more than one. one more. four. tour four hour pour sour. your soup. you pour your sour soup on the tour at four. you have an hour. adios.

nine feet tall. five foot six inches. ten stone. one potato two potato three potato four. five potato six potato seven potato more. out. o-u-t spells out and out goes you.

to out. outing. a summer outing in pale outfits. to fit out. read out, speak out. to say your name. to have one’s name called, fingered. a line drawn through the name, the name marked, numbered, equivalent to. to answer to your name, to be, being that name. any such assignment, a category. noun. person. place. thing. idea. the idea of the thing. going.

the furniture of the name, armature. propped on a name, going out leaning. number. no one.

the idea of naming a thing by a number. color. the resident quality. to name a child angel, a handle. to cast out the names one after another, to be drawn in a lot, to have one’s name drawn at random, unknown, to discover later the act, after the fact. to be gone, absent, unaware. a name without a thing, person, a name in stone. gone.

no name. no one. no two alike. out of the third, another speaking.

June/July, 1993
for V.H.

Published in River City (University of Memphis), Spring, 1994

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