Words That Stay Over

by Joseph Auslander

Joseph Auslander

Having watched the wild gulls gather, disperse,
And knowing no better and no worse
What beauty is and the beating of wings in my eyes
And the wind beating in their cries;
Having seen white breast colour and of beaks
The rapid flash and the whistling streaks —
Something in me not to be quieted
Asserts itself like the sound of birds over water and speaks:

And I say: It would be a simple thing to bear
The weight of death, the impact of despair,
The pressure of contempt or even silence or yet
Endure a clamour I cannot forget;
All this would be a simple thing if words
And water and the bitterly radiant birds,
Gold dark twilight and one throat and one
Face mirroring stars, one mouth murmuring and eyes still wet —

If all this and all these and the little things
That have such terrible strength could beat like wings
On water once, like wings beating, like swords
On water beating ... and then no more! ... But words,
Words that stay over though the voice is dead
To the words; the terror of something someone said
Long ago somewhere and laughed at long ago —
These rust in the brain and grope like a wound that has never bled.

Last updated May 19, 2019