Learning to Talk
Whenever Jason said "beeber" for "beaver"
or "skirl" for "squirrel"
I secretly loved it.
They're better words:
The busy beeber beebing around;
the grey squirrel's tail
like a skirl of smoke along a maple branch.
I never told him he was saying
their names "wrong,"
though I did pronounce them conventionally.
One time he noticed, and explained,
" 'Beeber' is how I say it."
"Great," I told him, "whatever
But within a week
he was pronouncing both "properly."
I did my duty
and I'm sorry.
Farewell Beeber and Skirl.
So much beauty lost to understanding.
Rain on the River
Grove Press, 2002
Jim Dodge in 1984. Photograph: Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images