Three snakes on the station path
essing in the valley’s noonlight:
Beware the wages of sanded rock,
beware of adobe,
beware the end of your tongue.
The ascetics have been busy since 4,
an hour created for ears.
A monk carved the doorlines with
scrapes of chisel, ball peen dapples.
One must touch the worked wood to
heave a lizard’s silence.
Inside, any move is overdone.
I fumble a matchstick.
I mislight a candle.
I clang in muffles.
Upon inspiration, the nose quivers
with unfamiliar memory.
I have been on my way to here.
I have kept hours in my ears
while bowing my head and
holding a match.
The sanctuary foils gratitude.
It listens to voice
slip into something else.
This is the sole time
my heart has outplayed my mouth.
Listen to the impact of a snowflake,
and reckon that what is collected here
is fainter by magnitudes.
I brought Dylan to the stations
and now here to the largest of ears.
All of our odes, every double-reed kiss,
every single one of our
thoughtless syllables can be
heard in a straight line from this spot
to someplace else, a speck on a dome.
Some come to the desert
with city bootheels and downtown voices.
Each visitor learns
to keep one ear for jaw-wags,
and the other for nebulae.
We hear little,
leaning on instrument scribbles,
walking on a loan unguaranteed.
Quiet, oh quiet,
after the fall of duskwing
and the settling of cottonwoods,
become the routine,
become time beside the river.
Forgive us in our smallness,
our hopes and fumbles.
Novices all, we will listen.
We don our hoodies as cowls.
© Michael Gravel