The Wind of Saying
The words dance in the wind of saying.
They are leaves that crispen,
sere, turning to dust. As long
as that language runs its blood-
rich river through the tongues
of people, as long as grand
mothers weave the warp and woof
of old stories bright with new
words carpeting the air
into dreams, then the words
live like good bacteria
within our guts, feeding us.
We catch the letters and trap
them in books, pearlescent butterflies
pinned down. We fasten the letters
with nails to the white pages.
Most words dry finally to husks
even though dead languages
whisper, blown sand through
the dim corridors of library stacks.
Languages wither, languages
are arrested and die in prison,
stories are chopped off at the roots
like weeds, lullabies spill
on the floor and dry up.
Conquerors force their words
into the minds of their victims.
Our natural language is a scream.
Our natural language is a cry
rattling in the night. But tongues
are how we touch, how we reach,
how we teach, the spine of words.