All morning the off-tune brimful singing
rruh-khee, scre-chee, cruk-ah, uh-hoo, zurrah
clangs a ruckus over the dream of a collective tempo
and for a fraction of a second, we hear the affections
of a world aligned.
You’d think the sounds were from another century,
knowledge so clearly carried through them.
They resemble the embodied voices of mycelium
sending instructions about, morse code for roots
distributing seminal beliefs
as if they were explaining the strictures of priesthood
or the water table for static-screech cicadas
waiting for their stage appearance every twelve years.
If only we, like all creatures,
were untroubled by catastrophe,
and allowed the soil
to extract, from our marrow-bone bodies,
words that disappoint and words that rhyme.
Every day at noon, the crystal mist burns off
high up by the campanile.
Lackadaisical days, sensational ways to feel
in greens and deeper greens.
But the warbling hoot and hiss and serenades we hear
convulse with something sinister we share,
that inner wrangling
shrieking on the sunglow slopes.
What spirit-noise this time permits.
What ordinary pain and ordinary tenderness
after all, remain
memory and memorial by singing and by sound.
From Tiny Extravaganzas (Arrowsmith Press, 2023) by Diane Mehta. Copyright © 2023 by Diane Mehta. Used with the permission of the author.