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Temptation of Silence

At the end of the pier where the moon rests
until needed, five posts worry at the water
as though to pull out a single word
of what the garbled sea says, dark fingers.

Light, and these chittering birds, indecision.
Always the sea and earth want you;
you can always go there; they
will take you in. And I have felt for some time

the encroachment of silence at my back,
like a forest. To live as stone, without history
enduring ... These posts rise like bare, black trees;
soon they will stride off into the water,

tearing land away, leaving only
sky, sea, a thin grey nerve of horizon.
On time also, like these long legs,
my thoughts move, focused in this dark lens.

There would be such comfort in despair,
in knowing. In silence I would hear endlessly
the message of blood, the shush of wind
in my chest, and have no use

for semiologies of the sky. As though
this black mirror might shut above me.
A gull quits the moonstruck cloud
it needs no longer, as farther out

fish enter this world in a quick arc
and fail, falling back. Just as well: they might learn
to live on air, but the paperwork, appointments
permissions would forever elude them.

In that diurnal sea I dwelled a long time,
until the language and disillusion were my own.
I would not go back there now; I would forget
the word for "wind," for "bread," for "pain."

This low murmur, as of crowds whispering.
Semaphore of cloud, telegraphy of star. Yet
the human voice, that and music alone,
consoles us. This resting moon tears at our blood,

this heaving sea pulls us. Our eyes are flowers
endlessly blooming out into the world, endlessly severed
by the spinning blades of the iris. What force must be needed
to keep the world's things separate, to keep them

from collapsing into one another! Then a vast wind.
There is little wind tonight, enough
to barely rumple the sea, while moonlight presses
one doorlike patch flat and bright as a bedsheet.

To watch from afar the storms that
make us human. On your right, ladies and gentlemen,
the dark night of the soul. You will be able to see,
as we pass, the rain of doubt, and high

in the trees, the whipping winds of love. (Please
keep your hands inside the car.) So: with words
we do dance over all things, speech is
beautiful folly. For we are of Language as

the world is of silence. Words slice
through the surface of the mirror, of darkness, like
shark fins, shining under the moon. Into the world, then
but with speech to hold these things in place.

For the night is still full of wrong,
earthquakes and executions; and unknown ships
gather towards us, towing in their wake
the speechless, unspeakable dead.

 

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