Homeland of the Foreign Tongue

Each morning we begin again. My wife
wakes me with a shove, and condescends
to try her sorry Deutsch with me; she speaks
like she’s chewing mud. God,
she’s dumb. I tell her so, but in a dialect she never
understands. Carefully now, she mouths her thanks
and takes me by the hand to the dampness
of the john, where she leaves me
to throw cold water on my face. I wash those parts
I want to wash and bump along the wall
to the sour kitchen, where coffee waits
and something tasteless chills against the plate.
Grace is blind, at any rate, and probably
deaf as well; it happens
only where angels let it—nowhere
you’ll ever find in time. I’ve never
seen the woman’s face, though once, too far
from here to count for much. I wished I could.
But it’s morning come again, and she,
as is her habit, begins to sing above the soup; somewhere,
some angel pities me, as God must once
have pitied her: Her voice forgets
its tenement, and I neglect the words.
—Scott Cairns