Click here to listen to Steven Henry Madoff read this poem.

They call him Namer. He begins.
      Otter, with its fan-shaped hindprint.
Chalcedony’s violet insignia.
      All the realm of tapping down,
tap       tap tap,
      of wedging the intricate flanges and hinges
of matter into place—
      even this creel of language I inherit.
On his right, the line out to the seam
      of sky smeared with falling cirrus,
a shadow under the mute plots
      of tufted hair grass, yes,
Deschampsia caespitosa, he will need
      the glottal archways of Latin’s
Te deum to mask the raw sap of shapes,
      unguent sheen of royal jelly,
how to name the separate bees, flared globes
      of Morning Glory, and the tumid weights
of liver, pancreas, which he takes from a notion
      of crudeness, the duodenum
nearby. He works all day at this, paragonite,
      radium, moon. How will I understand it,
the foldings of speech? He knows already
      that it leads to gibbets and maces, though the names
are still unformed, the special
      invented agonies, but miraculously he is falling asleep.
The field is waiting for his noun-spade
      steaming in the noun-turned air:
Loosestrife, Yellow Rattlebox, Soapweed,
      the True Watercress (what is the Untrue?),
the living scent of Jasmine. Not
      the field of almost, the field of is.
At the base of language
      is a wrench he names to use.
Why him, why the two of them, why
      us above the other things?
And the gate of the unknowable—clapping,
      always clapping
behind him.