Winter 1989 • Vol. XI No. 1 PoetryJanuary 1, 1989 |

Teaching My Son to Talk

We go to the farm near nightfall (hardly a farm at all now hemmed in as it is by houses of equal shape and color) though the walls are white as a temple still and the work of the old clapboards holds and there's a red barn sagging under the weight of history like a father's heart about to burst. The game is name and point as I show him the animals for the first time and he repeats them syllable by syllable with little thuds in this paradise already fallen like a ripe apple in the grass its time come. Peering into bovine eyes that glow like wild honey in the twilight he says after me "cow," his awe so original he dares to touch the enormous wet nose though only for the briefest second,his tiny arm recoiling like a serpent after striking. Soon it's "chicken," "duck," "goose," then "pig" and "pony," "rabbit," "rooster," and "lamb" in a cacophony of names pungent as a barnyard until I want to say "son, these are the things themselves unsullied by syntax or desire, love them beyo

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