'Prepare to be immersed in the heat and vibrancy of Florida's natural world, full of such sensual detail that to read it is to breathe it in.' -Jo Shapcott [review of Greyhound Night Service]

I wanted to post this poem as I was searching for information on the author and came across several people looking for the text of this poem. It's a favourite of mine, discovered in the 90's when taking a workshop in Florida.

Eve, Learning to Speak
A world already named, already

in the urge of his stressed

consonants, vowels


and doom and sundown, logbridge
and pear,

the gouge of the creek, hunched


For days I called him I,
called the root in his fist
water, called what fire does

He’d close mefor hours in the rivercliff
cave, as punishment,

to make me remember,

then he’d teach me its name: alone.

Alone,I practiced the unnatural sounds,
touching my lips as he did,

feeling air

move through my throat, my chest,

letting it stay there.

Then sometimes the hush, thethrill
of seeing things I hadn’t learned to say,

things he hadn’t claimed yet with his tongue:

once I woke, wet, hands muddy,

to something quick and burning

cutting through the trees.

And pieces of river

clinging to the spiderswings

between the crimped, rough applelimbs:

I would have kept that

as it was, tangible, alien,

let the memory

swell, unsayable—

and I stared at him,

refusing words,

when he came to rescue me

and teach me rain and lightning.

But some thingsI kept as my own: the hurt
low in my body

he knew nothing of.

I came to like it. And my own

name for the land—not “
not, even, a sound,

nothing any body could reproduce…

He wanted everything
common, reduced, so we could

exchange it, as though it were breath,

as though I still lay

deep in the bone and muscle of his side.

Sometimes I’d see myself
as I thought he must:

cut off, inviolable—

and I’d sit with him

and watch the high, cold grasses

all blowing one way.

I’d give in and let my strange

voice come.

And I’d feel the world diminishing, name by name,

as we talked through the long hours, and my new


hardened into form.

Bruce Beasley, from The Creation