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The Loons Prove That Even before There Was a Word for Grief It Existed as Song

Moreover when the orchestra’s concerto

across the pond bounced off the mountain dome

& traveled to me across water

I knew that time & distance had changed the sound

the way music changes inside a prison chamber

which is why I’ve learned to listen

to the reverb pressing itself

into the spaces between where the body remains

but the spirit has forsaken

where the partridge sleeps in a mound of wet feathers

where the snake not at all evil stretches

in primal movements

across the damp sand

where the hornet struggles against a web

its green shell already partly eaten

where every word I whisper every begotten sentence

is a tombstone in a cemetery of teeth

where all night outside my window

I listen to the highway run like a river

that my cousin drives through back & forth

his hair growing thick past his ears then clipped

his life not lateral but horizontal

where the sound of his life

not passing by in years

is the same as the hornet struggling

against the web the same as

the spider’s smallest mandibles

chewing through its head

because even a cell dividing in two is a sound

even thieves pillaging Cairo is a sound

even my cousin storing honey

on the sill of his bay windows

igniting the room into gold is a sound

that still exists somewhere in some echo

some mountain crater where he is moving away

into discordance where between us each year

this pond will freeze & thaw freeze & thaw

change forms change states

the salmon born down

under the vaulted ice the sunlight coming through

in arcs lit wicks cracks & fissures

which might look to the fish to be tunnels

to heaven if only fish were not

so dumb if only captivity were not the opposite

of heaven if only time were malleable if only

we could hold our breath for as long

as those loons that slip under our boat

in summer & resurface a mile away

into a place they did not choose

from Broken SpectreFind more by Jacques J. Rancourt at the library

Copyright © 2021 Jacques J. Rancourt
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Jacques J. Rancourt Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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