What did you dream about?
Wook, he answered, at one. One of his first words,
words coming to him slowly, so slowly, like shadows,
and less words than sounds, word-sounds
that did their work in mystery and in mystery
did better work than our common language
commonly could: shapes or light or toys or love or nothing—
“nothing” the common web search return.
He returns even now, at three, to his one answer,
one word—tradition-cemented but flowing inside.
Inside I know it will soon be replaced, this word,
by some sensible answer, some shadow’s shadow
his mind’s stitched together. We’re together each morning;
I’m ready, but his answer remains. He’ll remain
the boy after the answer, the answer remaining
after the boy and his dreams. The dreams gone,
all too common, the word stripped of all but the sound,
the mystery given and given to me, a shadow for my shadow.
What does it mean? I repeat. He repeats it, gives me a look.
Wook is the answer; the answer I’m seeking is wook.
First published in The New Quarterly (Fall 2018).