Figures of Speech
a tree across the grassy reach
men and women signing each to each.
passionate hands maneuvered like wild birds,
the air with figured speech
meanings I could not put into words,
if their flying fingers spoke in tongues.
breezes in a tree are never heard
the songs of birds are silently unsung,
language must be foreign as the land.
as painters hear the waves among
grass with aural eyes, they understand
frequencies of light and shade and stone
idioms they've written out by hand,
with the world by picturephone.
by degrees, across the silent lawn,
tree trunk bass and gravel baritone
the shook maraca of the sunlit frond,
thought I saw the day begin to speak,
what it had to say I can't repeat.
The Silent Partner, Story Line Press,
1994. Reprinted by permission of the author
and Story Line
Press, Ashland, Oregon.