language death

Making Apples

The Tsoyaha are the children of the son.

Last night I dreamt. Philomela—
I dreamt of you last night
Philomela—we were in South Central
Oklahoma. Listening to Euchee elders
squabble over what Maggie’d actually do
if she won this week’s jackpot.
Philomela—do you remember;
do you remember the way the cauterizing
sun fell over half-urban sprawl and
how Magda, restrained by heat, could barely
twitch her limbs to discourage fat flies—
her eyes following swallows weaving
in and out, out and in of electric lace?
This is where you lean to me.
This is where you press your lips to my lips.
This is where you breathe words into me.
This is where you force words into me.
“The wire web
holds the sky
in place.”

Magdalene was her Christian name.
It was her second choice. She preferred
Irit. The nun in charge of names
insisted that ‘Irit’ was not the name of
Lot’s wife. The bible never named Lot’s wife.
But, if the girl insisted on this moment
of Genesis she could have ‘Salt’ as her
Christian name. The girl breathed a Euchee cuss.
The naming nun answered with a smile, pushed a needle
through her tongue and gifted her the name:


This is where you leave me,
holding a half woven dream.
This is where your tongue becomes
Magdalene’s tongue, scarred
and thick in my mouth.