Posts Tagged ‘latin’

Latin 101




Of course we begin

with the impossible—

conjugating love.

Amo, amas, amat,

My son and I sit together

on the couch and chant

the old syllables

that have informed

so many tongues.

Amamus, amatis, amant.

It’s always the first lesson

when learning

this language

that very few speak anymore.

Every other language

I’ve studied begins

with to have, to go, to be.

But no. Here we begin

with all the ways

that humans might prove

our humanness.

I love. You love. He loves.

None of us ever gets

it right. Still, we

devote our lives

to these six possibilities.

We love. You love. They love.

Everything depends on this.

To my son, they are just

syllables. He thrills

that he can remember them.

But his mother, she wanders them

like paths, semitae,

as if she is following them

through fields of flowers

with no idea where her

feet might land next,

hoping that even though

the language has died

there’s still some

vital truth in it.

She can almost

smell the perfume.

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