While we’re working to change his R sounds
the stuttering weirdly increases. We thought Rs
would right themselves. The work for me
is to stop counting, and stop flinching at snakes
that aren’t there, that slither past in the corner
of my eye and I startle and turn.
The pier’s beard was weird. It’s late
to change speech she tells us, but possible. The story
slows down and he scrunches his face
to concentrate as hard as he can on car.
The therapist is elsewhere on the screen.
The game she gives us for homework
like a poetry exercise—inventing to hit
hard eerd words. Have you heard the sheep
were sheared, just as I feared, the time neared.
I do all the voices in Harry Potter but the brogue
of the groundskeeper is beyond me. All day
I count everything, every step, push of the knife
through carrot, every stir of coffee. Charlie can’t sit still, it’s not
possible, so while I read he disassembles
a LEGO jeep into a pile of bricks, and it’s a long chapter—
he has time to build back up and start to take apart again.
His current project is career retrospective, he said
I’m going to redo everything I’ve ever made.
We’re never too young for nostalgia. Dark.
He draws it out. Scared. Far. Near. The form
of the mouth as it folds around certain words.
Speech therapy and talk therapy—we both get 50 minutes—
what do we need to hear ourselves say?
This is a poem about brains, yours and mine.
A poem about brains and the work we must do
to get along in the world, as the world goes.
The hurt world where I was born.
Burt came in first in the thirst hearse. I only cried once
this week, reading a biography
of James Wright. What did my therapist say
about the snakes, the snakes
that my brain builds? Something about rest
and breathing. I haven’t had time to run. I haven’t
been drinking enough water. But I cut out caffeine
and I cut way back on booze
and I think the snake thing will go away.
Craig Beaven’s first book of poems, Natural History, was the winner of the Gerald Cable Award and published in 2019. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals, including Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, Tar River Poetry Review, Spillway, Jabberwock Review, and Cold Mountain Review, among others. He lives and works in Tallahassee, Florida.