On not learn­ing to speak Ger­man


There is no shame

in let­ting your ig­no­rance

run ahead of you,

so that you can tell your­self

apart from your fore­bears:

Those who look at a tree

as if it were a cab­i­net, closed and quiet

where each ob­ject stands in the pro­tected soli­tude

some call peace­ful.

You are look­ing down at your mother’s rub­ber boots—

stand­ing where ice gives way to mud,

in a shel­ter­belt half a mile west of the farm

where they broke ground

and bread and zoat and you.

They saw you bone idle but you walked with em­ploy­able pur­pose: to draft your de­viance out­side the mother tongue, as the wheat­grass danced for her friends be­side an empty ditch at the gravel’s edge.

You move along your sheet of ice, feel­ing it bend un­der your weight.

For­get your feet and the sky will step with you.

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