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The Voice I Hear

By Sally Fiedler

A wee Puritan fellow lives

in my lower, right-hand kitchen cupboard

next to the oven, where it’s warm.

He’s about the size of a soup can,

but when he first came to me

(and I was only three)

he took up most of the space

in my hulking cardboard closet.

We have argued often through the years,

and I have managed to convince him

that matters of the flesh

can be jolly matters,

that clenching of the teeth results

only in jaw dysfunction,

that letting it all hang out applies

to more than shirt tails.

He still occasionally grumbles and growls,

stamps his tiny feet, but only when

I have failed to do what is right

does he shake a fist in my face and shout:

“Thou wast not brave! Thou wast not true!”

SALLY FIEDLER is a widely published poet and retired educator living in Buffalo.