Language does not leave fossils, at least not
until it has been written
This morning is imprinted with blood oranges,
the piñon smoke tangling in the fan.
You hear words before the embers,
or oranges cool and dying,
while winter ash fades to carbon.
But how many times I catch myself,
encrypted, tasting each bitter syllable.
No space for every word I’ve learned,
still, they leave impressions, crystallize.
The absence of the speaker, shells
of those no longer known: true
impostors. And you’ll begin to notice
when I use them. When I talk,
when I lie to you come evenings,
in bed, or in the snow and scrub oak
south of memory. I’ll echo a forgotten
person, reverberating off you there.
You’re calm not from the cold
but the crude history of my voice
in white fields, above the timberline.
Chad Davidson's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in DoubleTake, Notre Dame Review, The Paris Review, Pequod, Seneca Review, and others. His first collection of poems, Consolation Miracle, will be published in fall 2003 with Southern Illinois University Press.
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