Long past the windmill turning night and the empty teeth of harrows I listen for a sound out beyond the fields and country roads almost adrift in late summer heat, a sound like sighing or the wind’s first stirring so central hushed and eyelash still no feather falling could be gentler, I listen for a sound to bring me greening back to being pouring over into water words, the sound of growing leaves to blossom my tears away, a few sprigs to weave a joyous song—I listen for a sound long past trains rocking in their cars and cages in the drawn out wailing of far away—I listen for a sound in drifting motes of brightness in the cellar and the cooing of mourning doves consoling the briny air and every soughing of wings under the ever glistening stars still faithful to their ancient lights gone out long ago blessing the rafters of abandoned barns I listen for a sound to guide me and to give me, I listen for an ache and murmur of water that must be saying gladness, gladness over the pebbles and polished stones—I listen for a river and a child’s voice on a playground inventing wondrous things out of sticks and dented bottle caps—I listen for a sound on the radio between static in air waves that travel through the clouds, I listen for a voice and the deeply struck marrow of sorrow in a cello’s crucified strings, I listen for a word and I listen for a cadence, a cricket, a heartbeat, I listen for the lightning to peel back thunder and shatter its broken chandelier across the sky, I listen for the dying and I listen with ears made of corn and waving grass, I listen to the swaying of the trees in every poem of weather, sleet, rain, and a cold front sweeping down from the north in towering canyons of gray—I listen for church bells and minarets crying out the call to prayer, I listen for the funky groove and high speed traffic out on 46, I listen for blood roar, mud crawl, mouse scurry and the weeping of Corsican mourners, an owl turning her lantern head porch-wise in the dark in the deep bowl set of her inscrutable face—I listen for the least syllable and verb to thrum and thrive me and the tearing of envelopes in the eager grasping of finger love, I listen, I listen, I wherewithal the unspoken grace, the spendthrift spilling of blood, the first born’s scream, the seed in its milky pod playing earth music in the dark so softly the flame of its bright bursting color is almost whispered, almost heard.
I Listen For A Sound
Robert Vivian is the author of The Tall Grass Trilogy, Water And Abandon and two meditative essay collections, Cold Snap As Yearning and The Least Cricket Of Evening. His first poetry book is called Mystery My Country–and he’s co-written a second called Traversings with the poet Richard Jackson. He teaches at Alma College and as a core faculty member at The Vermont College Of Fine Arts.
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