WHEN I MEET THE LAST TAUSHIRO
I ask him why his folk settled at the mouth of the Aucayacu River
instead of plodding north. He tells me they meant to live.
The conference begins & a man hands him a card. Several follow.
The day before, he’d gathered rainwater & buttered up some yucca
as he headed toward the mount. He prowled until nighttime, he believes.
I ask him why he won’t satanize those who snub his fears & wants.
The last speaker of a language that forgoes p’s & b’s longs to teach us
his a’s & c’s. Last year, he met a woman who could muster a few sentences,
but not nearly enough for it to matter. He used to have a Bible in Taushiro
that “got stolen ages ago,” he says. I ask him who translated it.
He doesn’t need it anymore. He sings. He talks to himself & never forgets.
As a young man, he could climb a tree the way his mother taught him.
Nobody else for miles knew how to get those paltas from up there.
Yet he never fell. Ask anyone around. He could do it again, he thinks,
but only for a little while. It’s getting late & he’ll run out of game.
—from Rattle #62, Winter 2018
P.L. Sanchez: “I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for Lee Chang-dong’s 2010 movie Poetry. There are dozens of poets who have inspired me, but I always point to that film as the one thing that set me on a path. Granted, it probably has nothing to do with the poem in this issue. I just couldn’t help but mention it in my bio.”