Etiology of Tongues

Dana Blatte

“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” 

       – Genesis 11:1-9 


& it came to pass that we were stars 

       -truck. See, we departed from the angle of the 

sun. Found brick & stone to build a city 


between our hands. Said let us make 

       a name & twisted dirt into tower, 

sand into syllables, heaven into heritage. 


We were so close to touch- 

       ing the sky. So far from ground the flood 

narrative sloughed from our skulls. & it came to pass 


that our tongues angered God, our mouths 

       too round & sharp in the sinful ways we shared 

our breaths. See, we found heaven 


but it did not want us: God blurred 

       our names so we out- 

smarted the water & only stoned our- 


selves. The narrative shifted 

       the tower & we closed into fists, twisted 

dirt into dust, sand into storm, heaven 


into harbinger. Bricks scattered 

       bones, & we were so close to touching it all. Let us 

make a name, we said, but we got 


tongues instead. The flood- 

       gates opened & no water poured out, 

no city blurred the sky, no 


names to share our sins— 

       & so it came to pass.

DANA BLATTE is a high school student from Massachusetts. Her work is published in Peach Magazine, Rust + Moth, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and more, and has been recognized by YoungArts, The New York Times, and the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, among others. Besides writing, she loves illustration, linguistics, and honey almond butter. Find her on Twitter @infflorescence.