Partial Inventory

I find pamphlets, transcriptions of lectures given at the Library of Congress, and among them Anthony Hecht’s talk on pathetic fallacy. I always hear this term in Madeline’s voice because she taught it to me, pronouncing each syllable deliberately as if to engrave it on my memory. That’s a teacher’s trick, isn’t it, to give weight to the words you want your students to remember? I’ve always loved to listen to her voice on the phone. She speaks precisely and never rushes. She gives each word its due, even when the subject is trivial or she’s simply affirming something I’ve said. Yes. A letterpress voice, that leaves its impression on the air.

From “Partial Inventory,” Los Angeles Review, Volume 14,
Fall 2013, an issue dedicated to poet Madeline DeFrees