Size / / /

In the beginning was the forkhead

box P2 gene, bestowed upon

us by either seraphs or beasts

or the evolutionary equivalent thereof.

The Word as word, our muttersprache,

the one tongue we all clung to until

Babel, with its shrieking disharmonious tower.

The Word fractured then, like a crystalline

vase, and has been cracking and

splintering ever since.

(Later, hoping to resurrect the atavistic

syllables of the Word, as if simply dusting

them off from some semi-forgotten closet

in the brain, the Egyptian pharaoh Psammetichos

had children raised from birth in complete

silence. Alas, no angelic prattle was

enticed forth, only the low proto-speech

of idioglossia, as incomprehensible as dog

poems or the gossip of birds.)

Where once a single language prevailed,

now a hundred blazed;

then a hundred more, shaped in a crucible

of time and isolation, if almost always

debased and reinvented by each

new generation of speakers.

Since then, in terms of universality,

only the barbarous tongue of English

has perhaps attained a pre-Towerish

currency. No language police currently

moderate or enforce its grammar or

pronunciation, if I'm any judge. I hear

its mutability mostly in the popular culture

or my children's cellphone exchanges. Only

years later are the changes legitimatized

by inclusion in dictionary updates.

Thus the long polyglot echo out of Eden,

augmented and accented, as a stew is

spiced, continues its wayward exile, just

as it will follow us up and away from its

place of origin. No doubt my grandchildren,

adjusting perhaps for a Martian lisp

or Jovian diphthong, will hear further

variation and enhancement.

Even now the Word begins anew.

Robert Borski works for a consortium of elves repairing shoes in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. You can read more of his work in our archives.
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15 Jul 2024

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