How we come to language, the little ones,
testing the percussive syllables
of ba and na as if reciting the letters of Arabic.
No wonder our letters were crafted around
first words, universal syllables, echoes like those
for a father—dada, baba, papa.
From these beginning steps come
the foray into words, synapses
stretching syntax in the same way
the world expands, becomes real,
becomes something to be navigated
in baby shoes, babbling all the while
with what my brother called creature
language when he watched me speak.
Our DNA is to name: how we call the sky
the sky, how we name the dirt rimming
our fingernails. How those shadows of pets,
our first lessons in death, become the zoo
made flesh to dwell among us.
In the beginning was the word wonder
one friend told me—what we whisper
to ourselves as we watch the little ones
turn their tongues toward infinity.