L is for Loretta Lynn, red-haired crooner
singing Coal Miner’s Daughter to a crowd
of one, her dead father, about growing up
on a hill in Butcher Holler with no one
to look after her but her beleaguered
mother, already worked to the bone.
Her voice a slingshot forged in hell,
until the past, present, and future
became a game rather than a prison,
barbed wire frisson a mere technical
effect, meant, by the studio producer,
to suggest the difficulty of passage,
the last sin that of obstructing
a shopworn, tortured body
from leaving the factory floor
of the liminal, and finally
breaking through.
O is for Odysseus, whose name means trouble
in Greek, a Phoenician language in the tradition
of diglossia, inscribed by the Cypriot syllabary
until the development, in the 9th century BC,
of the Greek alphabet. O is for the opened
wound, the tell-tale scar that betrayed
Odysseus’ identity on his ten-year journey
through the Ionian Islands and lairs
of Circe and Cyclops, home a foreign
tang on an oracular tongue craving
oysters, olives, and odd ends
from an open kitchen whose chef
prepares ox-tail soup for the return
of the wayfaring husband to the
once-ossified, now opening,
like ripened star anise, wife.

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