Below these bluffs, branch water

like a wind in leaves

ruffles the hollow. The rush and spill

sings through bare timber.

Stretched in the sun on this rough rock,

I feel the stir among the hickory buds,

the red tips on the maple, and wonder

who could name these sounds”the flowing


the surging around roots and stones.

Up north, a man too young

to limp and stumble, with children

not yet grown, lies in bed

after biopsy, making what terms he can

with a brain tumor. All winter

it kept roaring in his ears

with no interpreter. Now he has one.

Downstream my wife bathes her feet

by a sweetgum tree.

For you, John, heaven might start like this,

from bedrock, when one voice

that fills all hollows

like the voice of many waters

stops singing in an unknown tongue.