Field as Auditorium, Maura High

Laurie Doctor, from Her Sketchbook,
Lettering as Landscape




You say my messages did not get through

What sound do messages make as they
lose themselves in the ether

glissando diminuendo

What is the sound of my lost language
I hear a lilt and dive, music only

yr hen iaith fy nhadau

a few passwords clicking from the keys
If I had said the things I wish now

that I had said, what would have been

the tone of her voice in answer
What did her smile sound like

I don’t remember, she is so quiet

in her photograph, black and white, gazing off
What is the sound of a leaf falling

What kind of ear could hear it

as it shivers the air and slides down the wind
tremulo and thrum, pick-pick

the same as the grass growing but in reverse

What was the last call of the last ivory-billed woodpecker
over the ordinary check-check twitter shrill peep

at dusk the end of November

Maura High


Note: The line in Welsh adapts a phrase in the national anthem of Wales: “Yr hen wlad fy nhadau” (the old land of my fathers), changing “wlad” for “iaith” (language), which is invoked later in the song.


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