Letter Written While Waiting in Line at Comic Con

Matthew Olzmann

Klingon, Parseltongue, Na’vi.

People invent imaginary languages so imaginary

citizens of imaginary worlds can speak

to one another. Elvish, Ewokese,

Dothraki. You can learn these languages,

come to a convention with your face painted blue

or a leather scabbard bolted to your back,

and talk to people who will understand you.

I understand what language feels like

when you’re not understood. More than once,

I thought some other planet might be home.

Once I saw a man punch another man

until neither looked like a person.

There are hundreds of reasons like this

to long to be from some other galaxy,

century, or dimension. Reasons

to put on a space suit or wizard’s cloak

and hope no one will recognize you. But it’s not

these costumes that amaze me; it’s always been

the languages. The way they reach

for something that can’t be said

in our tongue. In the only language I know,

there are not enough words for parabola

or isotope. Too few phrases to say I’m

sorry or I’m glad that I found you.

Though we’ve been married for years,

I wish we met when we were children.

If we had known each other in the year

you spent alone on Earth without one friend,

we could’ve been aliens together.

I’d have those green, four-fingered hands.

You, with your glow-in-the-dark antennae.

Words in the form of strange whirling noises.

Low chirping machine sounds.

Wisps of static, lamentations of rain.

Only you and I would know what it meant.


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