Vernacular // By Elisabeth Denison

Here we speak sudden to fear, and the season
of understanding is autumn, is mid-
autumn, is the point in the night
where you go upstairs or you go home.

Here we speak the same as war, in hallways
in hushes, and here is the taste
of exhaustion disguised as water, the state
of being always at shoulders and never

asking where we are. But disappointment lies too,
lies down after all, next to questions
half-posed and answers we have
amassed over autumns: like, this isn’t a secret

but it could be; like, the fields here
end in theory; like, there will always be wars
for us to go to, there will always be fodder
for our visions of going.

Like this, no universalities: My words are water
over your shoulders is the only reason
we speak louder in sleep. And though you say this
is where we live, in universalities, and I say I know,

I keep seeing you in fields, here we speak
at the feet of stairs, you in a language
that I recall from dreaming, a language all essence
and exception.