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Lost Culture Overheard

12.13.18 Posted in today's words by

Judith Cody’s most recent poem to appear here was “Learning to Leap Over the Bulls” (September 2018)

Lost Culture Overheard
By Judith Cody

Simple domestic phrases can never
sound so sweet as in the ancient family tongue;
the long arrow that is the past
bores into the very heart of childhood
and beyond into quiet ashes of ancestors.

Voices swirling in a soundless medium of mind
enveloped in censorious “old country talk”
so different in tone and texture than the English
all around our home, which is the “correct” way to talk.

                 “Milenkeh Honyoll!”

words filled with laughter and love.

                 “Moyah djetinnah. Yah yubleh the.”

I recall my toddler recollection imprinted
with unsurpassed clarity,
soft mist of gentle Ukrainian words
filling the sun-strewn kitchen,

                 djitinna, shidjteh . . .
                 hyutsuteh milehko? 

                 Klahsneh . . . klahsneh,
                 moyah honyoll. 

                 Yahs niyehs . . . Yahs niyehs.”

Grandpa would nod wisely as we sat across
a white-painted table near the ornate
black iron coal stove; this robot from
another era radiated almost as
much warmth as my afternoon chat with him.

When there are secrets to speak of
parents aunts and uncles speak only
in the old language,
somehow they imagine that
children won’t understand the code.

Who is there left to speak with?

(” . . . Yah nyehts niyehs . . . Kasha . . . Moyah hulla boollett . . .”)

One Response to “Lost Culture Overheard”

  1. Sherrell R. Wigal says:

    A stunning moving poem!

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