December 17, 2007


I wake,
see the blackened chimney
of the lamp, the lung
of weighted dreams.

Outside, bats
slice the night.

I want that handling
of vision,
that swift sense
of blind rule
and cleanliness.

—Anne Coray
from Bone Strings (Scarlet Tanager Books)

Posted by dwaber at 03:57 PM

December 16, 2007


Nothing's really soundless:
a calm lake, rimas dissolutas,
rehearses the memory of its waves.

Bough and branch
accent the holographic sky.

Even rock, proud mummer,
articulates the drama of an ancient plosion.

How shall we learn this listening—
snow falling on snow,
distillate phoneme, white vowel,
mother tongue presuming no auricle?

We're all word-wired,
transmission-trucked, hitched
to the electronic pulse
of a quick delivery.

We've forgotten, or
there's another deeper structure
the linguists haven't figured out yet.

If the deaf can sense vibration...
If the deaf know a sign as a word...

Who's to say silence all these millenniums
hasn't been offering its palm?

Dumb as a stone, I think I could begin
a little lip reading. Master
the shine-exact English of the stars.

I think I could interpret
the delicate tremble of their light.

—Anne Coray
from Soon the Wind (Finishing Line Press)

Posted by dwaber at 03:28 PM

December 15, 2007


Another morning's landlocked story.
Another morning abiding the hook and the line.
The jays have been up for hours, scouting
the beach for salmon, remnants mostly,
already stripped and scattered by the bears.
Meanwhile, clouds build to a rubber erasure.
The trees slough off their last dead leaves.

Jesus, it's tiring, dog whine and dénouement,
tongue-sweeper, pulling its own weight under.
But you don't give up. You log in: Waded out.
Plumbed the shallows for a turned pebble,
one syllable's radiant spawn.

—Anne Coray
from Bone Strings (Scarlet Tanager Books)

Posted by dwaber at 01:33 PM

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 04:34 PM

December 13, 2007


Now the hand brushes the page
whose lips are soft as a newborn baby’s.
She has just begun to breathe, to discover
the throat, the tongue, and her first sounds
burble up, contralto. It is all
we can do, to watch the phonic rungs
form their companionway to this vast deck
stacked with syllables and echoes.
What shall she make of it?
Water, we say, and point, and she says water,
a little softer, a little slower,
as the dawn spreads in full light on her brow;
she is not ours, this child,
who totters into outstretched arms.

—Anne Coray
from Ivory (Anabiosis Press)

Posted by dwaber at 03:28 PM

December 12, 2007


The wind is not rude or indifferent, and even
as I delight in the minor drama of appositives,
I feel unlawful. Why make this April snow
a pock-marked body or the sun a governing eye?
Can we love the hill if it is not anatomical?

Now chickadees are at the feeder, wearing their
black caps and bibs. Ridiculous? Yes. But
how compelling is the jay if it is merely gray?
Or the goshawk simply northern?

Our signatures are written in the tracks of rabbits,
our punctuations in the shapes of rain. The road-
side spruce won't care if we call them honest;
I think there is no guilt or innocence
in the fervency of wanting to belong.

—Anne Coray
from Bone Strings (Scarlet Tanager Books)

Posted by dwaber at 03:47 PM

December 11, 2007


Nothing can be said
that is intended.

You cannot grow melons
but you learn that swamp grass
is of equal value.

If you should exact
the sound of a dove
you are perhaps unfortunate.
The coo must become
something slightly
undefined and private.

Deference to the self
is the only way to patience.
Is the slug unhappy
because he has no followers?

If you believed once in water
(whether oceans or tears)
you will someday uncover salt.
You will learn how it is mined,
begin a study of structure.

Curiously, you'll find the tongue
reluctant to accept a formal logic.

What you tend, after all,
is invariably simple:
a leaf, a blade, a stone,
the vowels long and pure,
rich and lovely.

—Anne Coray
from Bone Strings (Scarlet Tanager Books)

Posted by dwaber at 12:09 PM

December 10, 2007


Adaptable, capable of changing mountains,
they can become lightning
if there is a lightning flash.

I like them—why not—?
for their verisimilitude,
their eagerness for attachment. Be careful!

Warns Basho: avoid adjectives of scale,
you will be happier. Exactly.
And “buds of snow” may be better than saying
the snow is new.

—Anne Coray
appeared previously in Water-Stone Review

Posted by dwaber at 01:46 PM