Repeat After Me, by Jacqueline Waters

Sign in to access Harper’s Magazine

Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?

  1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
  2. Select Email/Password Information.
  3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.

Locked out of your account? Get help here.

Subscribers can find additional help here.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!

Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
Subscribe for Full Access
Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.

From a manuscript in progress.

Let they who thought all that up
enjoy more of that

while I take care of this customer
who may not know I am not

a help line, though I am attentive
to the peculiarities of any problem

anyone calls me over about.
I discover you’re alone

and don’t like anything around you.
And on the pillow your ear

hears the thunderstorm
straight from the poly-fil.

You’ve been caught, say by a belt
tightening around your middle

but still you wave
a utensil around

to show right-handedness.
I think it will help

if I repeat after you
without you knowing

your words don’t land
but pass over me

like wildly scattered showers.
Then you repeat after me.

Then the sun will shine, in a proud way,
on our cold, embarrassed land.

More from