Sometimes, the words of another…
by Barbara Maria Rathbone
…are enough, when your own have grown a little tired.
If you should ask me where I’ve been all this time
I have to say ‘ things happen’
I have to dwell on stones darkening the earth,
on the river ruined in it’s own duration:
I know nothing save things the birds have lost,
the sea I left behind , or my sister crying.
Why this abundance of places? Why does day lock with day?
Why the dark night swilling around in our mouths?
And why the dead?
Should you ask me where I come from, I must talk
with broken things
with fairly painful utensils,
with great beasts turned to dust as often as not
and my afflicted heart.
These are not memories that have passed each other
nor the yellowing pigeon in our forgetting;
these are tearful faces
and fingers down our throats
and whatever among leaves may fall to the ground:
the dark of a day gone by
grown fat on our grieving blood.
Here are violets, and here swallows,
all things we love and which inform
sweet messages seriatim
through which time passes and sweetness passes.
We don’t get far, though, beyond these teeth:
Why waste time gnawing at the husks of silence?
I know not what to answer:
There are so many dead,
and so many dikes the red sun breached,
and so many heads battering hulls
and so many hands that have closed over kisses
and so many things that I want to forget.