“Adenoids” – the word was always plural –
“antebellum” – “orthopedic” – “cantilevered”
all were evidence that grown-ups used a language
so fantastically peculiar it did not remotely
seem to me, who couldn’t have been too much
more than three when I discovered how to form
the sounds to say them, that they’d ever be
intrinsic to my lexicon.
Mostly what perplexed
was the apparent certainty that everyone
would grow up to be grown-up and would know,
for instance, words like lexicon and why some markets
sold and traded stocks, whatever stocks were,
and what anguished ladies in old films
like “Stella Dallas”
had to do with.
I’m still not sure I know,
or by the time I exit
will have known, what
any definition of a single element,
phenomenon or thing
I am supposed to know
now that I’m held to be a grownup
was or is. Nothing’s
anything at all
may be the only definition from which I derive
some tiny sense of leaning toward a meaning
I might one day find I can declare.
This may be why everyone
who talks to me
before long seems to wish
I weren’t there.