To understand language, hold a book upside down
and squint until everything stops making sense.
English looks a lot like gibberish when you flip it
and grip it by its legs
or its tail, like a fish you’ve caught
with your bare hands.
If I stare hard enough, until my vision blurs,
words become an unnavigable fog.
There, I unlearn how to read,
how to pick the stitches out and unravel
words from their meanings –
to unbraid them from each other like hair
and laugh when they blow in the wind behind me.
Maybe literacy is a layer of skin you can shed
to dance again, light as a shadow,
in the fog where words are nothing
and cannot hurt you.
In the fog, you can’t see your hand
when you hold it inches in front of your face.
The mist eats the outline until you can’t even recall
what a human hand looks like
and everything becomes a shape
and everything loses its meaning.
But in reality, you can whisper fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
into a baby’s ear and they will smile up at you
as if you had blessed them.
Sometimes I think language belongs in the dictionary,
not in my head. Surely it would be nice
to forget these words:
mucus and rape and parasite.
But the language, it clings to my fingers
like coal dust.
And like a miner, I go again and again
into that terrible darkness
where it falls upon my face
like a thousand crumbs of earth,
or a thousand kisses.