I heard…

In response to my Russian instructor who asked, “Don’t overthink it. Just tell me what you heard.”

Я слышал… I heard…
Sounds that aren’t my own, that unsettle my hear
Collisions of teeth and tongue, lips and lung
The vast expanse of the mouth rendered destitute
When all the consonants retreated their wilderness
Stockpiled their citizenry in stacks east of the Alveolar ridge

Я слышал… I heard…
Tense tongues and cold tight jaws
And inconsistent stresses marching ever north in Morse
Away from the Middle East, its sticky oily fires,
And the aromatic tongues I have learned to love—
Wafting in tense cities smoldering slow
The echoing separation within roots pried open.

Я слышал… I heard…
My past in accusative case, the direct object
Of rightful resentments in genitive and
Hurled in dative toward a nominative baby born in 1984
Into a nest perched on a prepositional ledge between two worlds
Defined in response to two instrumental periods of time
In which the locative has increasingly disappeared.

But no, I did not hear anything about the Petrovs,
Or why they went to the store across town.

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