Laura Kasischke

1961 / Grand Rapids, Michigan

The Time Machine

My mother begged me: Please, please, study
stenography...

Without it
I would have no future, and this

is the future that was lost in time to me

having scoffed at her, refusing
to learn the only skill I'd ever need, the one

I will associate forever now with loss, with her
bald head, her wig, a world
already gone
by the time we had this argument, while

our walls stayed slathered in its pale green.
While we
wore its sweater sets. While we
giddily picked the pineapple
off our hams with toothpicks. Now

I'm lost somewhere between
1937
and 1973. My

time machine, blown off course, just
as my mother knew it would be.

Oh, Mama: forget about me.
You don't have to forgive
me, but know this, please:

I am
the Stenographer now.
I am
the Secretary you wanted me to be. I am

the girl who gained the expertise you
knew some day some man would need.

Too late, maybe.
(Evening.)
I'm sick, I think.
You're dead.
I'm weak.

"And now I'm going to tell you
a little secret.
Get your pen and steno-pad, and sit
down across from me."

Ready?

The grieving:

It never ends.

You learn a million
tricks, memorize
the symbols &
practice the techniques

and still you wake up every morning
lost inside your
lost machine. Confused, but always
on a journey.

Disordered.

Cut short.

Still moving.

Keep speaking
Mama.
Please.
I'm taking it down
so quickly, so

quickly, even

(perhaps especially)

when I appear

not to be.

I do this naturally.

See? So

naturally
that in the end
no training was ever needed.

None at all.
None at all.

I taught myself so well.

It's all I can do now.
96 Total read