Journalism In Verse

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Saying I Love You in Wookiee

in Obituaries by

Saying I love you in Wookiee means navigating the blast
from mocha chip ice cream, when smeared against unsuspecting
front teeth; joy or excitement can be just like that. Not a letdown
but an unheeded warning. You screw your face up, chew

and gobble, get stopped by horrible head trauma: this fast-
biting desire and the allure of distance turn to regret
at incalculable speeds. Watch stars draw themselves closer
together and think about what flying feels like

when you’re confused about gravity; when you’re afraid
of heights and everything’s upside-down. You can be
in a hole or an avalanche or an opportunity. Wookiee
is a language of feelings. Saying “I’m leaving” or “get started,”

“stop crying,” and “pass the popcorn,” requires a background
in interpretive dance, medicine, and song. In Wookiee, words
are less important than positioning each meaning. “Empty seat,”
“friend,” and “accelerate,” stem from the root of the verb “to embrace.”

Novices focus on the sound or the motion of the tongue
at mouth’s back. Arm swaying imitators—their crane-necked
frustration as lead—carry no key to the mastery of the varied
and nuanced dialogues, or the regional differences between
breaking off and ending or rebirth, rehearse, and sequel. First,

you must act like a tree; the skin and bark, the stretching
and uncomfortable leaf-pops at your extremities, before you
let the language grow all over you, as with moss or decay.
Then you become the bear. You’ll hear yourself speak

as if wearing a pair of store display shoes, small and stiff
and unforgiving, and then you’ll sense someone else far away
as they move deeper into ground. You’ll know that it’s you. Stay
quiet for a hundred years, or the time it takes to burn down

galaxies: come back and regrow. The hardest thing to say
in Wookiee though, is I love you, because once you’ve learned
its ways the phrase rips through fur and bones like nothing else,
inhabiting an emptier dark than silence can. I love you in Wookiee

feels like everyone you know and care for in the time they take
to astound and devastate you and leave. But to the Wookiee,
these letters are something else altogether. Their words sound like
the memories you have before you say goodbye.

 

________

Kurt Cole Eidsvig is a poet, writer, and visual artist whose work has earned awards like Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant and a Warhol Foundation/Creative Capital Fellowship.

________

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