To the Other Planets

/ /

If you are listening, no need to tell us
what you hear. We know the rifle shots,
the sputtering canisters of gas
and the other gas that makes a small girl
or boy dance giggling in the house.
We know the sound a cow makes
scratching her back on a low branch,
the scratch of a crow’s call, the woof
of its wings in flight, the sea receiving
a pelican’s hell-for-leather splash,
the daughter laughing in her mother’s arms
just now, guitar and ukulele
finding each other’s tunings.
We know the illusion of silence
that hangs between us in the night,
the bar fight staggering to a stop,
the stopping bus, its wheeze of brakes
and rattle of opening doors,
the thump of a wallaby’s tail,
the nearly-dinosaur sound
of bison chomping grass,
the symphony, piano solo
from an open window, love
crying it’s “I” out, sirens
ecstatic with emergency,
beggar’s curse, rumble
of traffic. The awkward chord
kept hidden in a practice room,
the new attempt and the one
after that, and after that
the head bent still
over the patient instrument,
that breathing you can hardly hear
clouding the patient’s mask,
the sound a tree makes
when the wind takes it,
the way the sea becomes a forest,
the forest a sea, and the same
for everything inside us
going further and further
from what we call the light.
We know the speed of fire and water,
and we know too
what it means to listen,
really to listen
when another speaks,
which may of all things come
closest to love.