My wife took French in high school;

I tried to learn Spanish. My parents

could speak enough German to get by

while Dad was stationed at Hahn.

My boys have followed their mother

to France, while a friend’s son,

who’s studying international relations,

is already fluent in Cantonese.

I hope my grandchildren will learn

winter wren or hermit thrush;

my great grandchildren

elk or moose, perhaps with a minor

in fisher or marten. It will take longer,

but maybe someday all schools

will require the ancient languages

of Douglas fir and cedar,

Pacific yew and hemlock.

Todd Davis teaches creative writing, American literature, and environmental studies at Pennsylvania State University’s Altoona College. He is the author of collections of poetry including Winterkill, In the Kingdom of the Ditch, and Ripe. His poetry has been featured on the radio by Garrison Keillor, on The Writer’s Almanac, and by Ted Kooser in his syndicated newspaper column American Life in Poetry. His poems have won the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Editor’s Prize, and have been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize.