December 14, 2007


                    It is my design, now to wander among the oldest layers
                    of speech, among the farthest phonetic strata.

                                                                      —St. John Perse

How easily here
we could begin,
white shale moon
uncloaking the night's great hall.
Pictures of things—
claws of animals, limbs
of trees, reaching
for the wisped breath.
Then the wind-born labials:
mountain, willow, vole.
Bold light, rising, past
fireweed, beach pea and rock
to lake: landscape of tongue,
aspirate and carved vowel.
Behind it all, a gurgling,
the river's throat learning
its earliest course—
Liq'a Qilanhtnu;
from what spring,
what shower—
the world awash with voice.


Liq’a Qilanhtnu is the Dena’ina Athabaskan name for the Tlikakila River, flowing into Qizhjeh Vena (Lake Clark) in southwestern Alaska.

—Anne Coray
from Bone Strings (Scarlet Tanager Books)

Posted by dwaber at December 14, 2007 04:34 PM