Often words are penned for us with ease,
The silk and blade of them convicting.
But at the station of the ream,
They are embryonic
Until the eye perceiving and heart redeeming
It is then, midwives to genius,
We give birth to masterpieces.
These are the words to which I put my life;
Half palpable emblems of the soul.
And though they are not from me,
They are of me.
On words like these I
Rest the cross of faith,
Easy friends in dark times,
Sure-footed helm of the truth
I pretend to live.
But of their brothers and sisters
Nothing is taken;
They are stillborn, and as silent as the grave.
So many years in ink
I fed the neonates,
So many words that make me as they are
The whom I am.
I think now, much too late,
Gazing at the tenure of my life
(Such as it has been)
Through epitaphs and cordial flowers
Wilting on tombstones for the
It is because they came from
Different races, the skin with halting hues—
However much they too were words,
Saviors or poisons,
My would-be human heart encaved;
The understanding crushed.
It was the many other privates consciences
That felled the stones for them – they and I –
Together closed to newness.
And now I walk among the headstones,
Wondering what brighter sun regrets his common dull—
How many cures and spirits risen, minds upended with the truth, and every happiness embraced unfouled—
If I had only taken chance with orphaned words,
And stirred a different flight of madness
In all the hearts so barely beating.