At the headwaters, the river
is mercilessly clear. Every rock
on the bottom is visible, magnified.
The fish must find shadows
or roots for hiding. I wonder
how it would be to speak so clearly—
a tongue so transparent
we might gaze into each other’s words
and see every color,
even the colors we would hide.
I want that, I say. A gray bird
sings in the spruce tree.
I cannot translate its song,
though it’s only several repeated notes.
This is how it is, sometimes,
even the simplest utterances
are impossible to decipher.
And now thunder. This language
arrives with its charge, its dark verb.
I tell myself I don’t want it.
Then it becomes my greatness.