my neighbour was
a linguist, and an
english professor
she taught me
and my brother
eighty five ways –
how to transform
a sentence,
basically eighty five
ways to communicate
with a set of words

figures of speech,
tenses, voices,
punctuations, conjunctions,
interjections, pauses,
simple, compound,
and complex

she’d teach us after
our school hours,
and requested us
to stay late,
for homework,
till her husband dozed off

sometimes she’d cook extra
and bribe us to stay,
by a dictation test,
or an 800 word essay

as i grew up, i understood
the daily case of onomatopoeia,
every night across the hall,
a happily married oxymoron
and bruises under her shawl.

it took years for her
to build her stance,
build her voice
i asked my mother
was there more to it
than just a choice?

why she didn’t speak up
at any given stage?
and as a kid i wondered
she could have
slammed the door,
and said the
same thing in eighty five
different ways!

moxie ~ force of character, determination, or nerve.