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UNDER LANGUAGE

When I lived as the blind girl
selling pencils on a busy corner
I began to understand why
we waited so long
before we formulated language...

but I also understood why
we finally relented

because as the blind girl
I felt the roots of feeling deepen,
I felt the leaves of feeling unfold.

And when I lived as an undertaker
sometimes a sharp pencil shaft of light
would shoot up
from under my shovel--

I appreciated these brief rays
and dug hard to find more...

Then one night, after all
the mourning was done,
while wandering among
the columns of trees
I began to understand
why we waited so long
before building the electric bulb:

when the moon waxes its wand
over deep forestlands of grace
the earth then releases its breath
and flows a sensuous mist around us
in glowing cool white cloud--

then when the moon darkens its brush
the whoops and screeches
--cries of life--
from invisible creatures
become shooting stars
of an unseen galaxy.

When I lived as the blind girl,
then when I became the undertaker,
ever so often, I would come up
from the cavern cellar, and then
I just had to click on the light
and tell someone (if only myself)
that such a life existed--

so I needed words
though I knew words
would imprison me--
I would be hung up
in my expression--

but though I can't tell you much
I can tell you this:
I have never lost--
maybe in the abacus sense
of the word, yes--
but thatís not actual loss--
not one of us
can go away without gain--
itís completely impossible
for anyone to move through this life
and not reap what has roots and leaves
and goes so deep
it refuses all names,
all definitions.

After so many years
of stitching word embroideries,
I still spool out too suddenly.
Right now, all I can think to say
is: I hope you know what I mean.

© 2008 Michael R. Patton      go back

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