Spoken to

Walking by the sea
you listen to the language of the waves,
you wish you knew what they were saying,
their foreign tongue,
sonorous, untranslated,
the sibilants so smoothly pronounced,
their vowels so nuanced,
priestly chants, blessings, perhaps,
and for you, for you.

Standing still in woods,
the wind in trees is a different dialect,
the accents in other places,
but prayers, you are sure,
of the same liturgy,
you want to pray the prayer.

Birdsong, unexpected, on a city street,
desert quiet, deep as sleep,
the tick of a patient clock,
the beat of your heart,
a voice without language
in the swaying of subway riders,
beloved, and what they mean,
voice without words that comes
and goes like prayer, like dreams.
The voice in the pure song of silence.

Sometimes, as with a kiss,
you needn’t know the words,
only that you are being spoken to.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

    —June 4, 2019

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