‘A New Language,’ a Poem by Casandra M. Lopez for National Poetry Month

Image courtesy the artist Nani Chacon / 'Against the Storm She Gathers Her Thoughts,' by Nani Chacon

A NEW LANGUAGE

My words are always
collapsing

upon themselves, they feel too tight
in my mouth. I want a new
language. One with at least
50 words for grief

and 50 words for love, so I can offer
them to the living
who mourn the dead. I want

a language that understands
sister-pain and heart-hurt. So
when I tell you Brother

is my hook of heart, you will see

the needle threading me to
the others, numbered
men, women and children
of our grit spit city.

I want a language to tell you
about 2010's
37th homicide. The unsolved,
all I know about a man,

my city turned to number,
always sparking memory,

back to longer days when:
Ocean is the mouth
of summer. Our shell fingers
drive into sand, searching–we find

tiny silver sand crabs we scoop
and scoop till we bore and go
in search of tangy seaweed.

We are salted sun. How we brown

to earth. Our warm flesh flowering,
reminding us of our desert and canyon

blood. In this new language our bones say
sun and sea, reminding us of an old
language our mouths have forgotten, but our
marrow remembers.

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