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.