Commentary Magazine


Early Evening, Deep South

Slyer than birds with throats
more rare to touch than rubies are,
the small bronze tone slips through
a haze of bacon smoke
and troubles silence over fields of grass.

The bell is nowhere, yet it always is;
just there, out of sight; the far slope of the
       hill;
perhaps a long mile by some indolent road.
You never know where it is, but always
      Know
it rocks in a scarry whitewashed tower
you could thump a pebble to
if somehow you could ever come to it.

Women with sweet black faces
and kind, motherly bosoms rounded deep
in flowered cotton
move through sand-paths you shall never
      print.

They speak words blurry as tufts
      of wool;
and tall men hear and mumble licoriced
      tobacco
in their cheeks.

The earth turns a little, a little,
and a cloud drifts, deeper pink,
and a double pine door closes,
and. . .

All these the bell is for.
It is nowhere, yet it is.
Listen, you hear it.

Sound gives the heart its most invisible
      wound,
most gentle and bloodless, most unsuturable
      and deep.

That is why musicians wear dark cloth.

_____________

 

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