Very

Mimi Khalvati

Very... the very first time that I heard
– or worked out what it meant since at that age 
English was still a mystery – the word
‘very’, I thought it strange. A sudden passage

flashed through its scrollwork gate into the heart, 
the very heart and all its imprecisions
hitherto silent, every distinct part
of language. Here, like steps, all the gradations

of feeling could be heightened, magnified,
for someone else to feel. Like guardian angels, 
adjectives, adverbs, standing side by side

with lone words that might otherwise conceal 
the very nature of their joys and troubles, 
could qualify the world and make it real.