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By Barbara Cole

Practicing, she is practicing piano scales as if it makes a difference.

In as much gestures and genuflections.

A brush, a little press, a touch as such, an invitation.

So say it to see it so clearly so-so. Adagio in gestures.

She is practicing scales to make a difference.

In the ear, so soft, more a sensing than a sound.

To speak, to say, to seem it so.

In this way how she is coming undone.

A little press as such is as much an invitation.

Tipping scales, a different tune.

How she is coming undone at the seams.

He seems to be coming, to be crossing the room.

Undone at the seams she is

a touch as such. Pianissimo.

A she who is a proper she is not supposed to hope it so.

Scales and seams, to say it so.

Will he call and will she answer.

Practicing a little press, a touch as such.

As if it makes a difference.

And what will she say, if he should call.

If she should answer.

In this way how he seems

woodwind or string.

In this way a proper she is supposed to hope

to hope for a he, a proper he, who,

she supposed, might hope it as such.

How the word will open in this way.

A brush, a touch, adagio in gestures. She is practicing.

A she, being a proper she,

knows she is supposed to hope

he, being a proper he, is supposed

to do as much when

a proper she says it as such

what any proper she is supposed to say,

which is not, I suppose, to say she will.

BARBARA COLE will join poets Sharon Amos and Rose Salley in this month’s Literary Café at the Center for Inquiry, 1310 Sweet Home Road, Amherst, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. She is the artistic director of Just Buffalo Literary Center and a 2011 Fellow in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts. This excerpt is from “foxy moron,” an ongoing long poem project informed by her scholarly research on gender roles and women’s autobiography, that Cole, who received her master’s degree creative writing-poetry from Temple University and her Ph.D. in English from the University at Buffalo, has been working on for more than a dozen years.