What the Silence Said
Do you still believe in borders now?
Birds soar over your maps and walls, and always have.
You might have watched how the smoke from your own fires
travelled on wind you couldn’t see
wafting over the valley
and up and over the hills and over the next valley and the next hill.
Did you not hear the animals howl and sing?
Or hear the silence of the animals no longer singing?
Now you know what it is to be afraid.
You think this is a dream? It is not
a dream. You think this is a theoretical question?
What do you love more than what you imagine is your singular life?
The water grows clearer. The swans settle and float there.
Are you willing to take your place in the forest again? to become loam and bark
to be a leaf falling. from a great height. to be the worm who eats the leaf
and the bird who eats the worm? Look at the sky: are you
willing to be the sky again?
You think this lesson is
too hard for you You want the time-out to end. You want
to go to the movies as before, to sit and eat with your friends.
It can end now, but not in the way you imagine You know
the mind that has been talking to you for so long—the mind that
can explain everything? Don’t listen.
You were once a citizen of a country called I Don’t Know.
Remember the burning boat that brought you there? Climb in.
Copyright © 2021 by Marie Howe. Used with permission of the poet.