Memorize This Sentence for Casual Use in Conversation

by Taylor Mali

If you were the type of person who could,
without the slightest hesitation,
open your mouth and utter forth one beautiful sentence
with a syntax as easy to follow as a mile of twine
leading out of a complex maze,
then you might enjoy cultivating the idea
that eloquence is a quality that cannot be acquired,
that you are either born with the effortless ability
to produce fully formed thoughts as though crafted and delivered
to the tip of your tongue by God, or else you must resign yourself
to a life of little more than grunts;

but if like me you are one who labors over every word
and turn of phrase, who does not trust he can express
what he believes or even know what he believes
until first he has ground each word against each other
to see what crumbles and falls away
and what in the breaking may get even deadly sharper,
then you know that you do not betray the craft of writing
when sometimes you part the curtain to reveal the awkward gears,
the sputtering false starts and poorly chosen
that may first have burst forth
and threatened to hijack, disguise, or rip
the very guts out of your greatest truth,
of which in desperate need the world may be.