Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Tuesday Poem: 'Adjectives of Order" by Alexandra Teague


That summer, she had a student who was obsessed
with the order of adjectives. A soldier in the South

Vietnamese army, he had been taken prisoner when

Saigon fell. He wanted to know why the order

could not be altered. The sweltering city streets shook

with rockets and helicopters. The city sweltering

streets. On the dusty brown field of the chalkboard,

she wrote: 
The mother took warm homemade bread
from the oven
City is essential to streets as homemade

is essential to 
bread. He copied this down, but
he wanted to know if his brothers were 
lost before
, if he worked security at a twenty-story modern

downtown bank or downtown twenty-story modern.

When he first arrived, he did not know enough English

to order a sandwich. He asked her to explain each part

Lovely big rectangular old red English Catholic
leather Bible
. Evaluation before size. Age before color.
Nationality before religion. Time before length. Adding

and, one could determine if two adjectives were equal.
After Saigon fell, he had survived nine long years

of torture. Nine 
and long. He knew no other way to say this.

by Alexandra Teague

For more information on poet, alexandra Teague, see:


No comments:

Post a Comment