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I found a dead language, rotting
in a book older than the trees
that had birthed it. It had joined its lovers—
fallen men of an archaeologists' Empire.
I asked why only it had a tomb,
while others crumbled in desert
The words just smiled at me,
a skull's last grin as I lowered the lid
The question bled back that night
dripped in my ear like Hamlet's doom.
Why, I asked, have I heard nothing
of your miscarried siblings:
the Carpenter's Aramaic,
bearded Old English,
even Attic Greek that launched
a thousand ships—are they
not also dead?
The lipless smile replied,
spoke with no tongue,
Because I once was Rome,
Nine TimesI saw him nine times.
The first time we were both sitting in the room together, getting ready to take the math test that would determine our placement. I was scatterbrained and throwing things around, trying to find the pencils that I had known I would need but had still just tossed in my purse. He was lounging backwards in his chair, looking for all the world as though he didn’t have a single care in the world, including the upcoming test. It annoyed me, that I was frantic and ready to scream, while someone else could be that relaxed.
I tested out of the class.
I don’t know if he did.
The second time I saw him, it was a few months after I arrived on campus. He was the one rushing and frantic this time, running across the square. He was probably late for class, though I had no way of knowing for sure. I was already lost in my own thoughts and ideas, deciding on my major and convincing people that yes, this is what I really want to do with my life. If they weren
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