Rudiments, Part V of “Psalms for a Mammal”, a poem at the end of According to the Small Hours by Aidan Mathews.
The Mass in English and our flesh in Latin –
It takes a lifetime to be sinful and luminous.
We’ve been declining for years an immense word
That alters and turns the tables on us. You hardly
See it at times for the food that isn’t finished,
A service laid in matchsticks and menorahs,
In what might be a vocative – O table of ours! –
Or the muddy ablative life of kids enlarging.
At the same time we are conjugating, love,
The first verb we have learned from start to finish
In the present, in the imperfect, in the unconditional.
Such language there has been out of the two of us!
It all stems from the mystical phoneme Om,
From page one of a primer with block capital
Autographs hacked out like hearts in wood there,
And a dust-jacket the school-lunch smells amassed.
Your Correspondent, Finds marriage even more satisfying than Latin