Childhood Conjugation Our mother tongue’s a mile-long smorgasbord where children eat for free. With giggling ease they wolf down words that grown-ups can’t afford and guzzle grammar like soft strings of peas. One day I told my three-year-oldish kid the hour had come to clear her breakfast plate. “I amn’t done!” she snapped (she really did), her childhood conjugation then complete. “It isn’t done!”—the fork that prods the dough. “You aren’t done!”—the despot’s flimsy knife. “I amn’t done!”—the spoon, that wide-mouthed bowl, the ladle scooping language in sweet bites. Like roasted coffee or strong IBUs, we must acquire a taste for bitter rules. The Draughtsman’s Dream That hour when masons first roll out their plans, they glimpse the structure of the draughtsman’s mind, midwifed in clay by their own shaky hands in longing for the promised blueprint lines. All nascent vision’s fired in silver glass, in echoes of a young, expectant home, green-timbered like the lithe, unsteady mast that tacks into a windswept, fraught unknown. Do you remember, love, when we were wed? Our body’s union vaulting in a surge of mortared bricks? That bright, exultant dread when—flash!—the draughtsman’s clay-stacked dream emerged? That labor’s passed. Now come, let’s build our home. Past plans take shape when present plans take hold. David O’Neil is an assistant professor of English at the University of Southern Indiana. His scholarship on medieval poetic meter has appeared recently in The Mediaeval Journal, Enarratio, Philological Quarterly, and Essays in Medieval Studies.