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Barbara E. Young: About the Language. And Inevitable Death

Once upon a time 

                                    (and this is before you or I

or your mother or the dry disappearing women

who live under bridges were born)


words—had meanings unlike today’s. 

                                                   Night, for instance. 

And Alone. Alone, alone could fill all the space 

between all the yellow cities on the map with a hollow 

more empty than the echo of the emptiest of moved-from homes, 

dust where the dresser was, a penny, half a toothpick.

But we live in pre-owned valleys and cook

on the stove that came with the house. 

Wearing heirloom language to work, to regret, 

to shop for our suppers, we name common things. 

And say we die and go to heaven.

Call the yellow night sky black.

Copyright Barbara E. Young. From Heirloom Language by Barbara E. Young (Madville, 2021)

Barbara E. Young, her husband Jim and their two cats live in White Bluff, Tennessee, near Nashville. 

 A house in the Rush Historic District, an abandoned mining town in the Ozark Mountains (photo: Keith Dotson)

2 comments on “Barbara E. Young: About the Language. And Inevitable Death

  1. Maura
    February 7, 2022

    Barbara—I loved this poem. The more I read it, the more I admire the way you weave the surprising images. They make a kind of web or structure of tone and affect that underlies the “story” or “argument”. So those homeless women show up in the empty spaces between habitations, and in the distortions of perception, visible in the language we use, that make us unrooted from reality in our own homes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara Huntington
    February 7, 2022

    “echo of the emptiest of moved-from homes”. Oh I love this.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on February 7, 2022 by in Poetry and tagged , , , , , , .

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