Say No More

I intended to say we share words as well,

although it takes just two of us and a common language

to articulate a tower.


More like that Sunday magazine article

On dying languages in Patagonia

Than we care to say:


I asked her if she ever had

a conversation with the only other person

in the world who [spoke Yaghan].

No, Emelinda said impatiently,

the two of us don’t talk.


You might have said we are forever tossing

sound about in places where ideas are gathered

then drummed into senselessness.


That we are approaching the moment

when we will sit at a café table

telling secrets but speaking in tongues.


I intended to say we share words as well,

and the speechlessness of aged Yaghan women

hoarding icy words in a land of fire.


Originally published in Front Range Review


Note: Following the death of 84-year-old Emelinda Acuña (1921 – October 12, 2005), only one native speaker remains, Cristina Calderón of Villa Ukika on Navarino Island, Chile. Calderón (often referred to as simply Abuela) is the sister-in-law of Acuña.



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