A Poem by Martha Silano

Martha Silano

Martha Silano

Martha Silano’s most recent poetry collection is Gravity Assist (Saturnalia Books, 2019). Previous collections include Reckless Lovely and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, also from Saturnalia Books. A forthcoming collection, This One We Call Ours, won the 2023 Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry, and will appear in the fall of 2024 from Washington State University Press. Martha’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, The Missouri ReviewKenyon Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. She taught college English for thirty years, primarily at Bellevue College. 

Seventh Grade Personal Use Typing

I groaned and whined when I saw it on my schedule.
Why do I need to type? All of us girls (where were
the boys?) sitting at desks with Underwoods,

A A A space, S S S space, D D D, space, our teacher reciting the drills
as our fingers tapped: A S D F G H J K L; a song to sing myself
to sleep, keyboard appendage planted in my brain,

left index finger having learned to reach for the g,
right index finger reaching for the h. Nights
I wakened to the keyboard in my head,

an unwilled desire to type; in my mind’s eye
the t to the right of the f, pinky for the q,
a and z, the p. What was it caused

my brain to delight so fully in my fingers’ reach
from j to m or n? Why such pleasure
in kindergarten, hopscotch,

jumping jack, in whatever words came into my head,
which had to be typed? Stretch of the digits,
slight discomfort in the ring finger

as it swung from l to p, from s to x. Something switched on
that spring of my thirteenth year, fingers pressing the keys,
tapping letters whether sitting in class or not,

the keyboard having entered my brain
by way of my fingertips, my OCD
given a reason to be.