End Note

Jennifer Chang

Before words, there was the language of the mark.
We moved a stick along the dirt and drew
a line to the end. Our wild flickers 
ink-streaked a page, symbols like the stars’ 
orphaned radiance giving more light 
than reason. He holds out a hand: what do you see?
Skin of absolution, there is nothing. I wrote S
before I learned the letter; and when he warned 
Be silent as the “e” in house, I woke our father.
He had outgrown me with his name.
More wisp than dart, the sun rarely finds us
in the forest: he holds the fruit—I see
a breath vanishing—he knows the spell:
I live for a word, wordlessly.