Ciarán Parkes


'If a lion could talk, we wouldn't understand it' Wittgenstein

Would it talk, but in such a thick, lionish accent
we couldn't understand a word, or maybe
speak perfect English, or whatever language
we happen to speak ourselves, but sound to our biased ears

as if it was only growling? Would it play
tricks on us, hold long conversations
from behind a tree or rock, or call us up
on the telephone, selling timeshares

in safari holidays? Would it get frustrated
at being called 'it' all the time, would it lecture us
on lion psychology and how, despite our best
intentions, we could never understand? Would it engage

in cat and mouse style language games, claim that eating us
at the end of such affairs was, for it, a means
of communication, fitting us in
to its scheme of things, via an oral act?

Or none of the above, would it just prowl
on the edge of some lexical forest, another thought-
experimental animal, misunderstood and silent, fading
to an enigmatic smile, a single quoted line?

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