My Brother In Law Leaves the World
He held the lexicon on his lap,
and in late afternoon
tracked meanings across deserts, mountains,
histories of talk that crossed from East to West.
He tuned their sound and sense,
traced each line back to what he thought
were ur-verbs, bend, turn, cut,
all life carpentry.
We asked, What about transubstantiation?
He said, Christ remained but looked like bread.
Gradually words scattered, fled their posts,
Dictionaries, unread, lay open on his desk.
Birds lost their names.