Speak in hands not tongue – Laurie May

Werte, unte mwerre….
I can’t tell you how much I wish those sounds would fall
From open lips
How much I wish that my tongue would caress the gentle sounds
The harsh nasal twitch
The dips and drops of a dialect
Which inflects
Unaspirated stops
And syllable constructs
From bisyllabic to bilingual
Instead I flick my hand upwards
Twisting at the wrist
Across the supermarket lines of bored eyes
And cashiers with slow laborious hand movements
Werte, unte mwerre… my hand silently says
There she uses her hands in conversation
sweeps between one track to the other
As the rocks that were parted
We stand here and wave to the departed
12 year old girls look in mirrors
Hair designs for funerals not parties
She speaks in tongue to hidden spirits
Goodbyes on dry breezes
While I stomp my flat feet in warning
Here I am
I tell my feet to send the messages my voice can’t
The crocodile roots of ghost gums snap their jaws
At broken soil skin like expensive handbags
Made from protective coatings
It slithers invisible
down desert creeks
I tried to tell it my name
but it didn’t understand
My dialect created from generations of neglect
I have long vowels
and alveolar stopped t’s
My r’s don’t roll they’ve merged with w’s
My vowels don’t quit
they drag out
Like another syllable is really necessary
I speak in this English
twisted roman greek latin roots
stretching brittle across landscapes like mulga
With spindly pine needle leaves
I can’t say the words I can’t hear
Lost in systems not belonging to rivers
Presence wrapped in red tape ribbons
I float them down dry rivers
Like they were Moses
She clips her words and snorts expectantly
I can offer nothing
But my haphazard sympathetic glances
Eyes filled with clipped sentences
and e’s in all the right places
I can’t speak in anything but this…
Wrist…
It’s flicks upwards
Hidden scar stories squint at blue skies
That stretch into a world blood still longs for
But lays dormant under conquered skin
Her voice travels on winds that don’t reach me
Her hand flicks upwards…
Werte unte mwerre…