What may this mean? language of man pronounced
By tongue of brute, and human sense expressed?
— JOHN MILTON
The Spanish ended up with aguacate
because they heard the Aztec wrong.
The word āhuacatl might or might not
have meant testicle. Who knows the truth
about how anything begins. All I wanted
to do was trace the origin of my sorrow
and where did that lead me. My mother
tongue can testify to this: my trouble
with language has everything to do with
either blood or inheritance. Depending on
how you say it, three letters—A R A—
can mean thunder or wonder or body
or family. Here’s something you might
not know: Pandora never had a box.
That, too, was—no, is—a mistranslation.
Hey Pandora. Play Honey From the Jar
by Herbie Hancock. Hey Pandora. Play
Fly Trapped in a Jar by Modest Mouse.
Play Jar of Hearts. Play Jar of Cardinals.
Listen. I’m trying to tell you something.
Ayokunle Falomo is Nigerian, American, and the author of AFRICANAMERICAN’T (FlowerSong Press, 2022), two self-published collections and African, American (New Delta Review, 2019; selected by Selah Saterstrom as the winner of New Delta Review’s 8th annual chapbook contest). A recipient of fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and MacDowell, his work has been anthologized and published in print and online: The New York Times, Houston Public Media, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Texas Review, New England Review, Write About Now among others. He is currently a Zell Postgraduate Fellow at the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where he obtained his MFA in Creative Writing—Poetry.