Speaking In Tongues
I go to church every Sunday though I don’t believe a word of it, because the longing for God is a prayer said in the bones. When people call on Jesus I move to a place in the body where such words rise, one of the valleys where hope pins itself to desire; we have so much landscape like that you’d think we were made to sustain a cry. When the old men around me lift their hands as though someone has cornered them, giving it all away, I remember a dock on the estuary, watching a heron get airborne against the odds. It’s the transitional moment that baffles me— how she composes her rickety grocery cart of a body to make that flight. The pine siskin, stalled on a windy coast, remembers the woods she will long for when needs arise; so the boreal forest composes itself in my mind: first as a rift, absence, then in a tumble of words undone from sense, like the stutter you hear when somebody falls over the cliff of language. Call it a gift.
Mary Rose O'Reilley
The author of a collection of poetry and several works of non-fiction, Mary Rose O'Reilley was the recipient of the 2005 Walt Whitman Award
Date Published: 2005-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/speaking-tongues