January 9, 2014

Megan Sexton

IN FAVOR OF UNION

“The steady evolution of the language seems to favor union—two words eventually become one usually after a period of hyphenation.”
—Strunk & White

I remember that brief period of hyphenation.
When separate cups held each of our toothbrushes,
and they bowed to one another honorably from across the vanity.
Now they nuzzle bristle to bristle, germ to germ, in the same cup
like so many words, each one suitable enough on its own—take bed’s
monosyllabic brevity and slide it next to chamber’s Old French spookiness
to make bedchamber and suddenly I’m thinking of swains and maidens and
European linens with extreme thread counts
and you and me, way beyond hyphenation, fused under the bedclothes.

from Rattle #40, Summer 2013

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[download audio]

Megan Sexton: “When Maira Kalman’s illustrated Elements of Style came out a few years ago, I was in ecstasy. One of the passages she chose to highlight led me to write ‘In Favor of Union’—I also was thinking about my friend Caroline’s comment from many years ago. She said that she knew that she and her boyfriend were going to last when she saw their underwear comingling on the hardwood floor. Writing poetry is so much fun; that’s one of the main reasons why I do it.”