Learning BSL during lockdown, April 2020. A poem by Gaynor Kane

For Michael Wilson

Last night in a Zoom room
I learned to finger spell in BSL,
the first part of the alphabet up to M
but we got N as a bonus
and O and U as we pointed out the five-digit vowels.

You taught us good,
good morning, good afternoon,
good evening and good night.
We gave ourselves jazz-hand applause.

G is like one-potato-two-potato
or a knuckle column of the Giants Causeway
and g exploding outward is gold
add swimming, slithering,
fingers forward for fish.

The longest word I can fingerspell
is f-i-d-d-l-e-d-e-e-d-e-e
but it takes me an eternity.

Now I can spell out b-e-a-c-h.
It ends with a swift single rub
to remove all the invisible grains of sand
off the palm of my hand.

Next week, I will be able spell out c-o-a-s-t
but I will not be allowed to go there.


Gaynor Kane is a Northern Irish poet from Belfast. She has two poetry pamphlets, and a full collection forthcoming, from Hedgehog Poetry Press, they are Circling the Sun, Memory Forest and Venus in pink marble (2018, 2019 and Summer 2020 respectively). Find out more at http://www.gaynorkane.com.

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