If a Lion Could Speak, We Could Not Understand Him

by Lois Marie Harrod

— Wittgenstein

The boy was one of two
who spoke the language

almost extinct,
and he made a dictionary

from the phrases the old woman taught
so they could converse,

the two of them, young and old,
loners, of course,

and then she died,
the limit of her tongue,

and though he had an offer
to impart its phonology

at a prominent university,
he refused.

How could he teach the lingo
she had spoken,

so difficult —
who but him knew the boundaries?

He'd become one of those men
always correcting others.

But he liked to say,
Eyak is not extinct, just dormant,

the way widower might dream
the dead cherry tree

would bloom again
in some mouth or other.

Lois Marie Harrod’s most recent collection Nightmares of the Minor Poet appears in May, 2016. Her chapbook And She Took the Heart appeared in January 2016, and her 13th and 14th poetry collections, Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press) and the chapbook How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth (Dancing Girl Press) appeared in 2013. The Only Is won the 2012 Tennessee Chapbook Contest (Poems & Plays), and Brief Term, a collection of poems about teachers and teaching was published by Black Buzzard Press, 2011. Cosmogony won the 2010 Hazel Lipa Chapbook (Iowa State). She is widely published in literary journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. She teaches Creative Writing at The College of New Jersey.

Comments