Dan Beachy-Quick

Each of us has repeatedly our own shibboleth
Husk tight against the ear, against the grain.

Exactly because no one’s eyes are wide as the world
We must each say to ourselves the word

And ask if we belong. To the river: do we
belong? To the olive on the twig: Do we?

How often at night the mouth works
Its own words by itself for no one’s hearing

Not even our own. Grain sleep of dreams
In which snow again buries the river and fields;

And also, the strange slow green beneath ice
Or in eyes. An “and” that acts like an “or.”

And those who in daylight say No pasarán
At night let us enter the holy land, the secret,

The cipher that says “I am.” Poor river
Flowing endlessly into itself, poor heart—

Babel’s bricks break down in the blood
and that Eden tree has a leaf still called a lung.

I carried the pebble of it all in my thought,
I came all this way to sing one song.