Gradually, we began to call things
by new names,
the hard pronunciations of new tongues.

As if one day the sun rose over
California and we threw our shadows
oddly on the ground.
Awkwardly, we conversed with those
who drove the 18-wheelers, the tractors,
those who sold bread.
But we stopped calling it bread.
It was another name and its taste
eventually changed so that it too
became new.
After awhile, noone noticed how differently
we spoke, how many words vanished,
replaced by a handful of new words,
difficult to make, our mouths not used to
the strange new shapes,
the throat a little soar from such rasping.
The books our children read
became more alien with each chapter
until by the end, nothing in them
was in our language.
And while most have forgotten,
some of us remember, we say them in dreams,
over and over, so as not to forget them,
pronouncing them very carefully
so that we don't change a vowel,
preserve each inflection like our last breath.
Each night a different set of old words,
their meaning and history
so that one day we can say them
again, to others, outside.

Lenny Dellarocca

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