Friday, August 19, 2022

You Never Know with You

It’s amazing, the things
You can accomplish, thanks
To some quirk in language—

You, for instance, in this
Contemporary form
Of English. The you has

No formal distinction
Between singular and
Plural terms of address—

You, one of you—you, all.
Speech modifies this some—
Youse, y’all, yahs, all of you—

But you lurks even there.
On a sunny evening
In the Selkirk Mountains,

An older white woman,
Born in Saskatchewan
Many decades ago,

Is bantering over
Dinner under fruit trees
In the green summer light

With a First Nations teen
After a sweet day spent
Playing around the lake

Among friends. The teen jokes
When asked for a favor--
Being indigenous,

I’m not giving away
Anything anymore.
No one’s making me work.

The older woman laughs,
When have you ever worked?
Meaning this present teen

Who’s having this sweet time
With family and friends.
But there’s a quick tension

Around the table, then.
The teen hears you plural.
Other guests feel it, too.

History is mentioned.
I just meant you, yourself,
Comes clarification,

But, of course, it’s too late,
And may be insincere.
Who really knows, with you?

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