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  • Language the Fire in the Bog
  • Martha Silano (bio)

Words, if you let them, will do what they want to do.

Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red

Words like sky, stolen from the Norse. Norse as in Vikings,as in Danes. Words like ugly, window, thrift. Words not special at all.

Acquired like a sweater acquires lint, like the backseat of a Volvoaccumulates hair, crumbs, mud. Take give. Pilfered, from the men

in kyrtill, from those whose legs were swathed in spjarrar. With it,like pulling on a sweater’s snag: them, their, theirs. Attached

like burrs: low, ill, meek. Someone else’s lexicon like so manymany-flowered stickseed fruits, nutlets sharp-hooked, long.

English walks into a field, its woolen socks soon heavywith barbs, with freckles, with crooks. Absconds with birth.

They was once not ours. Thrive ripped from its rim like a hubcap,like the sign pointing the way to I-5 — cribbed from the same

fierce guys. No egg, no dirt, no skin. No leg, no loose. How?What was there before skin, circa 799? Odd was not ours. Nor

was the are from be (did we own be before we owned are?On this the text is unclear). Word (logos) shares a tuberous root

with ligare (to bind), with lignum (wood). Word into wood,boundless bound like a bundle of sticks. Phoneme fags.

Ligneous lines. Kindling making its way to the timberedbreath. Once, we resided in emotion’s tumble and toss, [End Page 708]

in a forest of primordial gut-going, tongue-less terror.On a cold night in Lindisfarne, Norsemen approached

with slaughter, ransack, snare. With knives they captured York,sent King Alfred to the fen. Bestowed the names of their gods:

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday; bequeathed us mire and muck;gave us Hell. Replaced our decorum with dirt. Handed us awe. [End Page 709]

Martha Silano

martha silano is author of Reckless Lovely and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, among others. She edits Crab Creek Review and teaches at Bellevue College.



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pp. 708-709
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