There isn’t a word you can say, not
one, no matter how heartfelt, no
matter we both see and touch its
impulse at the same time, that
isn’t, and won’t be, misunderstood.


My mouth and tongue are dumb. They pucker,
lick and swim to yours, trying
to tell you what they can’t in words.


I have a mouth full of marbles
that garble the clear meaning I
want to express. I choke each day
on inarticulate display.


When I speak I feel as if the wind has found
a way to make me sound, like moving a bottle
top around at different angles, high
whistle, deep bass, staccato bursts. I’ll loft
my voice sometimes when hiking: holler, whoop
and imitate the call of birds, the grunt and clack
of animals. What joy in wordless talk!


I like to savor, when I can’t understand,
the meal of vowels and consonants served up,
the way lips shape an uva, so round and fresh
I can almost taste the juice; the outward push
of flesh to smooth, to move the euphony
of love along; the strike of tongue against
the battlement of teeth when sounds go rock
hard and talk sticks in the throat and won’t go down.


Between the cry and rasp the heart must find
its way. How strange that sounds first filtered through
the mind and made of air will have to do.