Transparent Words - Poetry


Lois P. Jones

Before he was born he knew who he was

certain that each person he met was a universe
in the world, capable of filling the sky-
to suspend the stars as a mobile of light so long
as the world agreed. He had a way of bending down
to speak to the sequoias, and they spoke back;
nearly as tall as he, or so they thought. And when he took
flight, the long spread of his wings caused no one
to notice that a man flew in the guise of a hawk.

Today we walked along a dirt road, past the Early Golds
and dusky Winesap. Cider tills the air with something deeper,
moist flesh of earth ferments apple to wine -- the air
drunk with it. He bends to pinch a quince in one pocket,
the other bulges with a half-eaten crust as we make
our way to the edge of a lagoon.

There, against the black oaks and the russet fringe
of chaparral, he opens Whitman like an old song.
It is more than the words, loosed to the eddies
of the wind
; but the way he reads them, splitting
the ground, moving space out for a thousand acres,
charging the air until life pulls from every corner
and I have no roots, as if one needs anchors,
clinging like a child to earth.

All things come to him like a feast to the table.
He is neither chimera nor faun, but one who gathers it all
in a silvered web -- mallards skimming across the pond;
fields of wheat just before sunset like bales of cloud
on the earth; sun sinking into vermillion,
heating up the night, before the deep blue rises.

(for Russell Salamon)



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