The Wooden Home

The wooden house.

Alone to sup in a translucent enclave,

Once surrounded by loving eyes

Gazing upon troubled vowels

Of a man unaware of the coxcomb

He wore.

Dumplings of meat and fat

Floating in a soup of milk,

Balance between tomes and scraps

Engraved by frantic hands

Obsessed, yet unaware.

“Maybe this, maybe that.

Maybe repeat after me:

This is how you say this

When you want to mean this,

And not the other way”

They said with helpful breaths.

Breaths gave way to visions

Of times gone and shared

With others far away,

And the other huddled around

The glowing flames and keys

To share in that dream,

If only for the length

Of one beat of the heart.

Outside, the wind cried howling yells,

Not sweet whispers of spring,

But chilled dirges of winter

That pierced the skin,

But not the skin of the man

In the wooden home.

Composed 06/08/2012

Author’s Note: This was a particularly challenging day for me. I was studying the small collection of Mongolian words I had accumulated in my notebook, when my host family came in and tried to help. They all stood around me and began rustling through my notebook, which upset me a great deal. I feel that notebooks are very personal things, coded in such a way that makes the most sense to you. They weren’t teachers either, so they just stared at the lists of words and decided the best way to proceed was to just say all the words aloud. Finally, my host brother asked, in English, what I needed help with as everyone stared upon me.

“I don’t know” was all I could muster to say.

It was overwhelming for so many reasons that were unclear to me. I can still remember their confused stares, as if they were asking “Why are you getting upset?”

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