Speak, savannah

by Ashley Wu
Issue: Elysium (Spring 2012)

each night, you reinvent language, your tongue
carves history.
bared white teeth and pursed lips—what new word
is this, and who will listen

you listen: disembodied groans beyond the fire-lit circle, clenches
of primordial sound. your ears turn, pointed and animal as jackals’
howl moonward, emptying
into the void. the moon is a new word, rising up
skin iridescent, meaning obscured. who will listen—
you rage, you seethe and pace and claw the earth, but the earth
does not hold. and there are no words for this,
elephantine fury
rising up,
ivory tusks,
a great wrinkled expanse,
this gray age. an elephant never forgets, you say—but each day,
you forget. language.

you stick out your tongue, pull painted faces at
the great wide world. the past is yours.
you speak wars into being, you are the wind
that blows down thousand-year trees and sows
their stillborn children.
you will never know more—but in your
languages, your million tongues, swollen and feral,
you find the future.