A world already named, already deposed
in the urge of his stressed
consonants, vowels slack:
mood and doom and sundown, logbridge  and pear
the gouge of the creek, hunched leaves—

For days I called him I,

called the root in his fist
water, called what fire does bathe

He’d close me
for hours in the rivercliff 
cave, as punishment,
to make me remember,
then he’d teach me its name: alone,

I practiced the unnatural sounds,
touching my lips as he did, feeling air 
move through my throat, my chest,