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Published: Tue Jul 1 2003
Art by Jin Suk
For Tomorrow

Once it seemed so easy to go on building, up
up, up, and speak the same language as we went.
Foundation, joists, flooring, walls and rafters.
But now work stops, we can no longer talk. Your language
sounds like quarrelling bluejays, almost another species
of speech. Your word for run is a little like my word
for blindness, your word for mortar close to mine
for tomorrow. Your language, it seems, doesn’t have a word
for tomorrow. Rain begins so we gather our tools
and go our separate ways. I leave by car, you leave as you
came, by boat. We manage at least to shake hands good-bye,
already, it seems, slight enemies. Years later I stopped
to look at the house. The plywood was peeling,
nickel-gray. A family of porcupines fidgeted under the floor.
One word had remained the same for us both,
the word for bird or lost domain.

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