I took Latin in high school instead of Spanish or French because I wanted to understand the history of my voice–how my words were mothered by time and civilizations far greater than my own.
But Latin was not the mother I thought she would be. She was a conduit for words still in gestation, for tongues much older than she were lurking behind the doors of veni vidi vici.
I wanted to understand my voice. I wanted to shake hands with the first sound to escape us with meaning.
Our songs are old. They are ancient. They are relics that may well be from another world, another kind, another singularity… thousands of years of human history, not lost but ungiven, as written language came much later while our voices followed closely behind us.
Imagine. Your voice coming from the mouth of a woman clad in mud and fur, teaching herself and her children how to shape the pyramid that would become Babel.
Her voice is yours. We will never know the vowels and the verbs she gave us, but we know her in the same way we need not think to understand that our words are us.
I may never shake hands with the tongue that gave me language. I may never know the face of the one who pulled meaning out of meaningless sounds. But let that not stop me from speaking. Each breath a quiet thanks to she who opened her mouth and gave me life.