Unsayable first word
written into the text of everything.
Or the author of that word, crafting subtle subplots,
each one a fractal of the story’s whole.
The roundness of a seed, wrapped small;
its promise mapped in minute detail.
Or the patience of the one who works the frozen field,
tends it even as I sleep.
A gate hung in a dry-stone wall, its lopsided grin
an invitation to vault to the other side.
Or the other side itself, the path leading on and down—
scramble of pebbles, tough ground beneath my feet.
A rock rooted in the land, unmoving,
your own solitary self.
Or the shadow of a rock: cool corridors of stone
I used to play in.
A lover’s hands, that touch a cheek
or smooth the knots out from my hair.
Or are they doctor’s hands, wounded, skilful;
gentle on a bandaged heart.
A woman working yeast into the dough
to do its hidden work, an alchemy of rising.
Or the loaf of bread,
dense and chewy in my mouth.
A stubborn stump of tree, that wakes
to send up shoots at the scent of water;
or the branch that grows from it,
sinewy and strong.
Child: gift, long looked for,
the answer to a life spent waiting.
Or a teacher who cuts through easy answers
with wily questions of his own.
trembling on new-found legs
or the one who roars, who knows his foe
and will not let him go?
A fountain in a city square, flinging itself to the sky,
each drop exulting in its climb and fall.
Or the dense grey slab of laundry soap,
sudsing up the water’s play.
Venus: who rises from the deep well of night
tugging the morning after her.
Or the dawn itself, filling the bowl of sky
above my head with light.
Beginning. Source. First word.
The way a spring gathers water, swells, flows.
Or the end?—the place where the river
gives itself, surrenders to the sea.