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.