Like Slant Rain

Trouble is with inventing a language, brother,
when the only other person in the world who speaks it dies
you’re left speaking to no one. This mouthful of words,
 
of fat verbs and vowels and cases and morphemes
that stammer from the lexicon under the tongue
is desperate to be used and anxious to be heard
 
and competes against itself for the room to speak—
It crowds out my mouth with the need to keep alive
every O in our intonation before it ends up
 
on the dump with the clicks of Hittite and Kulinic;
our words seem stranded and strangely marooned
now there’s no one to read the other side of them.
 
No one to read them the wrong way round and still
have them make sense, say they are the wrong way round.
No one to say the old humanist’s slanting hand
 
would not have wanted a mirror if he was the other side
but it’s more necessary now, and I read in it:
lately, I confess, I’ve tried scrawling to myself in the glass
 
but, like any mirror-writing, it’s slant rain. And like slant rain
it goes on falling and tearing, falling and tearing.
Like slant rain it quickens suddenly and slows down
 
and is heedless of its own expenditure.
Like slant rain it goes on falling and tearing, falling and tearing
and the glass does not know what it sees.

from The Storm House (Carcanet, 2011), © Tim Liardet 2011, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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4Why Dunwoody Smashed Every Pane of the Stained Glass Window

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