Learning the Pacific Northwest

There are things you have to learn, moving here from anywhere else. Like how to pronounce geoduck, Puyallup, and Sequim. Drew Myron, has a little longer list:

Fern, talus, tide
It’s salal, he says, but I don’t know how
to say what he touches, how to make the
words that form new memory

It’s alder, birch, spruce,
a shore pine edge in offshore wind
We drive through days of dictionary

pages, catalog a new land of heather
and fern, talus and basalt
Surrounded by twisting syllables

and vines of vowels, we reach new ground
Our tongues trip over fresh formations:
alsea, siltcoos, siuslaw

On hands and knees,
we sort through language
slow and halting, finally give up

to touch earth instead
Wordless, we hunt for smooth rock,
broken shell, soundless objects

that will speak for us
It’s ocean now, not asphalt and engines,
that rushes and recedes

Current and tide,
sunbreaks and river roads
a new vocabulary that says home

— Drew Myron