Ode to the Dash

by Ann Hostetler

Thank goodness you’re here
to help me attach the words–
I’ve just introduced them and don’t
yet know how they’ll get along.
Honeysuckle belongs somewhere
in this poem, but the how is still
unclear, as is the where. When a child
I learned to pluck the green bead
at the base of the blossom–draw out
the stamen–and with it, a single
drop of nectar, place it
on my ecstatic tongue.
But honeysuckle,
this poem’s not supposed to be yours. You’ve
taken over like the pesky weed you can be–
sending up shoots beneath the aging
lilac bush in my backyard.
O dash! Come back and bring
your reminder of silence–
synaptic grace–
leap from honeysuckle–to hubris–to home–
whispering, “Emily–Emily–Emily.’


About the Author

Ann Hostetler is the author of Empty Room with Light, and editor of A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry(Iowa, 2003). Her work has appeared in The American Scholar, Nimrod, Poet Lore, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Washington Square, among others. She edits the Journal of the Center for Mennonite Writing at www.mennonitewriting.org and teaches at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana.