There are yet words that come near the unsayable,
and, from crumbling stones, a new music
to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.
—Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two X
Before bed, my daughter asks me
why in school they learn to sing,
I mean, she says, it’s not like that’s
what we’ll do when we grow up.
And part of me longs to answer her
with stories of my own—
how the stone of our losses dissolves
into tune, how we become wave,
become surge, blur with tone,
how song opens up every door
we might close, how it holds us
when nothing and no one else will.
Instead, I tuck the question
under her pillow as she climbs in bed,
hope it finds the trapdoor into her sleep,
hope the unsayable answer will weave itself
into her dreams like a river,
like light in a forest, like a breeze
in July, like a song that finds the lips
again and again and each time makes them new.