Chad Davidson


Today, you see only the letter a when you read. All other letters fall away — the pouting y,
the disconcerted r, the liquids caught inside the concave u — all gone in the absolute a. In Hebrew,
the first letter of the alphabet is Aleph, as is the Greek Alpha. In school, large apples hang on
walls, a giant A bright red. Red is the color of a, rushing into your first words, barbaric and
without shame, stamped as it is on report cards and meat.
Pin it to an adulterer’s blouse; shout it as you careen into the rocks, or just before; or when you
rise out of bed at night in sweat, knowing only what you dreamed was so elemental you have no
word for it. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apple an and away. And your apple falls
away from the page that stays the way it’s able, that lies there, lies to you.
Allah, Adam, Ariel. Every time you form your mouth around the a-ness of the a, or listen to a
newborn learn its name, or a poet from A.D., when and becomes a, and catatonic becomes aa,
and aardvark becomes aaa, and and and becomes a a — when all the words bow down and lift up
their sails to the wind of your voice, your gift to the wind and the world you’re in, your stars,
your names for God. Say a, say a. Say a, because one day, one by one, they will disappear,
leave the page, your head, and the silent, infant world. Once there was a.



“A” originally appeared in The American Literary Review, Fall 2000, and is reprinted from Consolation Miracle (Southern Illinois UP, 2003).