When I was ten, my dad
pot-roasted a cow’s tongue.
He brought it to the table on a platter,
unsliced, open: a chaise lounge, red and velvet,
slip of the lip to swallow us whole.

The tongue is a door,
a bed of confession,
zipper to seal the deal.

There is a jade plant on my window sill.
Its many tongues sip silent molecules:
water vapor, nitrogen, cool pool in the Kalahari.
Tongue as cave,
as conveyor, as flight of brown bats.

Tongue holding space between us,
gilded and strong with hope and death -
a pocket for everything.

Last night a snag of locust
blew down over chicken wire.
Five hens escaped.
The snag, a tongue to freedom,
to better pickings, a generous ledge.

Sometimes a tongue wags, ungenerous,
it keens to ten fingers times twenty
dangling over a hand-hewn gunnel.

There were children in that boat,
fleeing with family over turquoise water.
Maybe it was the Mediterranean
or cold Aegean Sea -
a wide tongue to crack their lips with salt.

Tongue tied were ragged ropes of souls,
Idiom of bodies below,
broken passage licking its wounds.

I clinched my lips tightly at the news,
still Luna months want to dust my teeth.
I stick out my tongue,
no black magic here,
only spring board for prayers.

Tongue as mother, a heavy curtain,
weighted in deep allegiance. She 

may hold a secret, but she has no bones.


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