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Words
by Elline Lipkin

reaching for the typewriter keys,
arms and legs thin bands of want,
pulled by the magic clackety clack,

the something that starts inside the belly,
then rolls out of the mouth. Already,
I know the feeling — a strike

so letters cloud into air, or
streak a ray of glyphs that bite
against the white page’s blank.

Years later, my brother says,
“You always were the light-headed one,”
that mad press was already

scrawling inside my skin, its smooth
surface concealing the roil of
words waiting to tap their way out.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Reaching for Words” (the author as a young writer).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I believe I was two or three years old in this photo, at that time living in New Jersey, before my family relocated to Miami, where I grew up. My brother and I were fascinated by my father’s old manual typewriter — it seemed magical the way words came out of the top. I think we were also just at that age of realizing the power words hold. Recently, I bought an old manual typewriter at an auction. Something about the lack of the intermediary of technology makes striking out words more satisfying and immediate.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elline Lipkin is currently a Research Scholar with UCLA’s Center for the Study of Women. She also teaches poetry for Writing Workshops Los Angeles. She is the author of the The Errant Thread, selected by Eavan Boland for the Kore Press First Book Award, and Girls’ Studies, published by Seal Press.