Today's poem is by D. Nurkse

                    for William Calvin

When we were apes
we had a language
of twenty-eight grunts
and each had a meaning:

enemy, trick, storm,
mango, refuge, mate.

To become strangers
we had to invent a system
of impenetrable sighs:
ah... ee... sh... oo...

interchangeable in patterns
because they hold nothing.

No danger, no home, no sky.

The blank signs came to us
in a dream that lasted
a thousand thousand generations
and one warm rainy night
when a salmon leaped
toward its faint splash
and a firefly sailed
neatly into its spark.

Already we were equidistant
from the mind that will die
and the body that cannot.

We could almost recognize ourselves
in the river at dawn.

Copyright © 2009 D. Nurkse All rights reserved
from The Manhattan Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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