The Affair of The Foreign Tongue

We thumbed pages by candlelight,
muttered weak attempts at words,
assumed dramatis personae
as tragic players stroking skin like a prop,
fingers lingering at sides.

I wish I remembered names of the German poets:
spirits that escaped
through us, our bodies, vocal cords.

Our mouths made noises like grunts of delight,
faulty syllables, mispronunciations.

We needed no translation,
lines seducing though they could’ve been
uncompromising notes on the glory of war.