What if I Told You?

What if I Told You?


It is a common belief that when a person dies, they are dead,

But what if I told you they could live on instead?

Everyone must die, this much is true,

But what if I told you something new?


What if I told you of genocides committed for years,

Unmarked by time or the weeping of tears?


What if I told you of intricate histories,

Faded away to only leave mysteries?


What if I told you of cultures abandoned,

Lost to those from whom they were threatened?


What if I told you there was no one left,

No one to remember, grieve, or feel bereft?


What if I told you these were languages gone,

Never to be heard at another dawn?


You see, people live on through the language they speak,

And when it is lost, the future looks bleak,

For it’s not only knowledge that it contains,

But thousands of generations it maintains.


People are saved every day from first deaths,

Knowing still, someday, we must take last breaths.

A second death would be much harder to bear,

But when the culture is gone, who is left to care?


I may not know their number or name,

But I can help them all the same.

Preserving languages for lives to save,

I could keep them from a second grave.

With half of seven thousand to be gone in a century,

Their cultures and people will be less than a memory.

I cannot stand by and let this occur,

Not as something I could deter.


Not so much a job as it is a life’s living,

Many lives can be saved with even one life’s giving.

By saving languages my life will see invaluable change,

But not as much as theirs, and that is the better exchange.


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