Laurie Klein

Lock that tongue to the roof
of your mouth, the therapist says,
eyeing the trach
at the base of her throat. (Memory
pulses in her, replaying a lover
eyeing her neckline.) Her gaze
lasers the expert’s ear lobe,
marking a place for a hammered
gold stud, a cross, or a fish—
Be amphibian: breathe, he says,
slow, through the stoma.. Good,
he says. Good. (Like gills, pumping,
pumping away as the barbed
hook is withdrawn, the catch
thrown back . . . Don’t
go there.) Force air up your gullet.
She gulps, then finesses
a belch, and he cries, Yes!
Now shape the noise. She tries, over
and over, a first-time lover,
kissing sounds old as earth, bracing
as rain, words she’d thought forever
lost, croaking: “Thank you,” tongue,
teeth, palate, lips.