Via Negativa
Chelsea Wagenaar (bio)

She opens a book
& with her tongue
makes a kind of repetitive
L sound, though this is
only partly true, since
her sounds are still free
& wild, unscaffolded
by alphabets. It is like
L, but not. What does
a dog say? I ask her,
though at the same time
I wonder who decided
babies should learn
animal sounds
right away, before even
help or yes. She replies
with something like
thwack. She points out
the window & blurts
a sound that starts
with b & somehow rhymes
with push & mirage.
Her babbles are little
mirages of words:
they shimmer with
meaning & substance
but disappear
into the ether
between her mouth
& my ear. Her mirage
language will one day
very soon be lost,
word for word replaced
with my imperial coaxing:
dog, milk, book.
Some say silence
is the truest form
of prayer, but I think
it is this: she speaks
and does not mean
to mean. She knows
her voice will turn
my face to her.

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