A Grammar Unknown by Melissa A. Chappell

A Grammar Unknown

The ocean mist rises between your lines.
I wrap myself warm and fragrant
in silken syllables and
coriander consonants,
your patchwork syntax,
and laving wordfalls.
Speak to me in constellations
and I shall trace them
in diadems and diagrams,
for your words are stars to me.
They cascade in axial adjectives,
painting your feathered hands upon me,
as I strive to resist modifying the night
into something small and manageable.
Tenuous tenses float away,
and we are neither here nor there,
but between milliseconds,
pressed as a flower in the leaves
of a book,
our fragrance rising,
soon to vanish with the light.
Conjugate, my love, this astral verb, spiraling galaxies,
let it slide through my gilded country, sparking flares,
until I am drenched by the rains of night.
From here the world is part parentheses,
wanting to enclose us, warm, in a furrow
waiting for a punctiliar preposition, when,
after all the loving, the words became
tangled, the conjugation confused,
the syntax unintelligible.
It became a language foreign.
A grammar unknown to me.
Yet your lines come to me still,
wrapped in the ocean’s mist.
Let us speak once more,
for it is ours for the trying,
together fashioning a grammar that hangs
from the evening’s watery lights.


Melissa A. Chappell is a writer living in rural South Carolina. She has a BA in Music Theory from Newberry College and a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. Besides writing, she is a classically trained pianist, vocalist, and makes attempts at the Renaissance lute. She also plays the guitar. She shares her life with her family and two mini schnauzers. Her latest publication is Doors Carelessly Left Ajar, published by Alien Buddha Press, 2020.