Note: this was inspired by Rachel Barenblat's wonderful Likeness poem (I almost titled it "Sumac, Lemur, Condor.")
Suppose I just admit I didn't think it through.
Dear Adam. I thought you'd give each thing one perfect name.
That would be The Kissing Stone. This would be The Apple Tree.
And it started like that. But one bright morning you called her Dear,
and by evening you had called her Idiot. And the tree
became The Tree of the Knowledge of Dear and Idiot
and The Apple became Sin and I myself
became Something that Walked in the Garden.
I thought I would be able to keep up, but day by day
you multiplied names and all your kindred did the same,
and now I sink bewildered under languages
outnumbering the stars, each one naming Stars: I say them
over to myself at night, but dear, dear children
of the children of my children, I can't remember them all.
You pray to me in words I can't recall. Your murmur rises
to my ears like the song of multitudinous birds
fretting in hedges, like the sound of waters in a still country:
I hear your voices, but the words, the words escape me.