Today's poem is by Jean Monahan

Last Speaker of Alaska's Eyak Language Turns 81

Her kingdom for one more argument
about the color of sand in January.
Now she sends her bucket into the well
of English, mainly,
never saying anything in that second tongue
that could make the listener
hesitate. Not saying Eyak
is like squeezing just the lemon peel
and not the fruit into a glass,
like wearing the old housedress in November
while the buckskin hangs on the branch.
Back in the settlement, the others
beg her to talk it, and she speaks aloud
while their moon faces flicker
with the savagery of incomprehension,
maybe a phrase they seem to recall,
misremembered music.
Now she turns her narrative down to the Copper River,
still saying Eyak, barefoot,
her words hauled dark and dripping
for the one who stands waiting
in the story no one in this world shall hear.

Copyright © 2007 Jean Monahan All rights reserved
from Mauled Illusionist
Orchises Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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