My Mother Says I Never Learned Language

Asa Drake

Because she didn’t want to speak to herself.

Which makes it sound like I have no language.

I know about noise, endlessly

human. The first thing I said today was welcome.

I woke up before anyone

else in my house and in one version

I say welcome to my own little animal

scampering to its breakfast and in another I speak to open

the doors of the office. Both have happened.

Some days, the first thing I say is a decree:

french toast or tea or I think we should go

to Tasti-Os, even if the donuts are fried at midnight

and wait in the window until dawn. I know for sure

I would have lost whatever my mother might have said

over her infant. I am also quiet and distrustful.

I have not learned to convey

anything more than meaning, and I think

when she says I have learned no language

she means, she thought I would be lonely.

On the way back from work I call my mother

to describe a new bag of rocks by the railroad

crossing. Someone else's

mysterious labor. I am envious of it,

a new bag every week. Cumulative. I want

that certainty and perhaps, to know what's coming

to this specific space between

the fire station and the courthouse

which demands such weight.

about the author