I have trouble with the spoken work. I talk, but often
do not have the word I want to carry the meaning.
Often it is a macaronic breach of two languages
or the snagging of one into a shortened branding-iron insignia.
Pocal is the local cowpoke.
Chowdhurry is a quick bowl of soup.
I wonder if this happens in the transfer of two heritages
into one vessel
a bifurcation of thought not only from within
but also pressed inward from the out
I remember the neighbor woman watering her four o'clocks
in the yarrow yard between our houses.
There is a word for them somewhere in my suitcase
which is packed
for a long trip. You come to my house and we talk of the
flowers while the cat sprawls on the floor. I must find that term
like a dress I know is somewhere in the luggage,
but with difficulty open the grip and take out the word I need
for our conversation. Never in my mouth, falling out easily as
cornbread when I choke. No. Words are packed tightly in there.
I do not like to get them out.
The isolation of the prairie has given me a migratory sense of
privacy. Words are holy as balloons which hold our breath
and that must be why it so hard to bear our meanings
as though they were buffalo returned to the plains.
I remember language as a broom in the cabin / table
by the window
with found objects / rocks, birdsnests, snerds, utotos, greesnees,
snocks & eggs.
Having a child around certainly babels the page.
If I yanked the toy hammer from his hand twice,
I've done it once.
It is now on the high shelf in the closet with the
if I ever return to water.
On the back they were building a house like Elisha & his prophets
when one chopping a tree for a beam or joist of the house dropped it
into the Jordan and said, what shall I do, for it was borrowed?
And Elisha said, where is it? And he said, there.
Elisha cast a stick into the water
and the axhead swam.
It is a take we know in school:
the conjugation of the first alphabet's letter
Just then a call from the handicapped worker interrupted
of the neighbor woman / the four o'clocks which opened & closed
each day at that time selling brooms & lightbulbs for a ceiling light
to see underwater & sweep the musty basement floor,
the seeping walls.
On this trip to the mountains of Colorado where the
altitudes in their tract / do you know they knew when the white man
I don't know how and they didn't know exactly who came but they
felt the intrusion of the new being.
At one time I called grandpa chief of the beaten tribe
who wandered with moccasins on the wrong feet.
Some new object which would have to be named in the
genre of neu-
essayist when there is no nouveau object to name but there it was
they knew somehow.
Diurnal. The name of the flower and the daily opening
between the herds of stars
grazing black, transparent fields.
Not the sweet neighbor watering her diurnals but something
would plant this square cement box in the ground and call it
Oh, they are only places to wash the clothes.
Wringer & the lines of rope across the basement ceiling
under the joists for the living room floor upstairs.
Once in church camp in Colorado we didn't want to
drive the 400
miles across Kansas in the heat and took Trail Ridge over
the mountains down through Berthoud Pass / Battered by the time
dark passed over us in Kansas.
El Jebel. Tabernash. Sawput. I said the names
My ancestors returned from the sweat lodge
ebullient as tall grass
mule-lol-ling the prairie
coming to grips with new words
but sound oozing like grease from under the axel rods.
Words are the building blocks,
the diurnals that blooM each day,
make the garden in which we Roamp. Roam or Romp.
We unravel the navel and pour out ourselves like Christ
on the cross
when they pierced his side or when I pull the plug in the sink after I
finish washing underwear to hear the loud suck.
And hang it over the pole and it splats in the tub just like
afternoon rain in the mountains at church camp when Is
felt the spirit falling and didn't know the word to say but said
Ey co bah/ eet/ eet/
Somehow they knew.
The balloon's navel all puckered where we put in our breath.
That's what our words do
Highjack four o'clocks.
Upsidedown on the floorher hind legs spread
the cat is a baby I hold.
At one time our words were kiva,
storing the broken parts of our tribe.