I am the Empire. I hold its last days
quivering in my hand. I clutch the sound,
The drawn out shadows on dust-ridden ways
clamping and cluttering on hallowed ground.
My words turn to match their changeling voices,
I simper, squeal to emulate their squall:
I ask my mother if there are choices
left to make, or if this is each and all
offered to us. She tells me that it is.
So off I go, buttoned in silk roses
tongue-tied and trained in Coleridge and Keats,
singing communion in parrot noises
until they ask for rainwater. What is
the Burmese word for having forgotten
what was already yours? If I am less
than the stone-drenched home-bird I could have been
it is not for want or lack of trying.
See, my mother tongue is stones in my mouth.
The words that sing home are dead and dying.
The syllables I sigh rise up and out.
Blinking years flash. Home is a nest elsewhere.
I forget now what this song is about.