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  • I Am a Figure of Speech
  • Gabrielle Myers

I am myself a part of what is real, and it is my own speech and the strength of it, this only, that I hear or ever shall.

—Wallace Stevens, “The Figure of the Youth as Virile Poet”

Everywhere a part of what is real strengthens in its own speech.Everywhere that speech shows its realness,That verbena leaf detached from its stem speaks,But like a rushed driver ignoring a walker in the crosswalk,The leaf doesn’t respond or change its path by what it sees.A ground squirrel nibbles closer;A jay flies before the verdant leaves;There is no visual threat.

I should hear and speak the part of myself that is real,This not only, but only this will strengthen me.Only this will make speech spread over me.

My speech strengthens in a leafDetached from what is real. [End Page 120]

Gabrielle Myers
Dixon, California