Wednesday, December 1

Words Rising

To Richard Eberhart

I open my notebook, write some words with a green pen, something enters my chest, and the stars begin to revolve and pick up alligator claws from under the ocean, whatever we have lived, in the sunlit shelves of the Dordogne, what we sang among the skeletons of Papua, the many times we died wounded under the tent of an animal's sniffing, and the grassy nights we ran in the moonlight for hours, returns, there is a "welling up of watery syllables," the anger barking in the cave, the luminous head of wheat, growls from under fur, none of it is lost. The old earth fragrance remains in the word "and," "the" with its lonely suffering.

We are bees then; language is the honey. The honey lies now in caves beneath us, and the energies of words carry what we do not. When a man or woman feeds a few words with private grief, the shames we knew before we could invent the wheel, words grow, an instant later we slip out into the farmyards where rabbits lie stretched out on the ground for buyers, then the stored energies come to our ears as music, we see the million hands with dusty palms turned up inside a verb. There are eternal vows held inside the word "Jericho."

Blessings then on the man who labors in his tiny room on his poem on lambs, and on the woman who separates the black seeds of loneliness from the brown seeds of solitude, as the afternoon light slants in, blessing on the dictionary maker, huddled among his bearded words, and the setter of songs, who sleeps at night inside his violin case.

-- Robert Bly