MOTHER TONGUE

I want to keep a conversation going
but my words sound
like recordings
of past conversations,
like the centuries
stored up
in the royal pronunciation,
the stifled reruns
of jokes that used to be funny,
the shared frame of reference
which is now antiquated
and the moving image
inside it
slows to a painful pause
as I search the walnut
that is my brain
for words.

Words I know I know
but they are not there.

Words I know I need
but they don’t come.

Never have I been so
quietly defeated.

I try to remember the word
for every day objects.

I try to point out the car window,
ask about things,
direct someone’s attention
but a poet’s eloquence
is reduced to a stuttering,
frustrated,
silent,
‘that thing that does….’

…and no one fills in the blank.

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