The Voice Before
Melody S. Gee
Echoes uncurl down this canyon
like patient honey rolling. Rocks repeat
everything I say. A tree falls
as many times as I can hear it.
My body in shadows—misshapen
echoes of light thrown
through cedars and ivory birch.
You are the body in my throat,
pitched into this low vein of earth,
cast over bald stones, pierced
on tentacles of aloe, and gummed
in their heat-split stalks.
What was that voice before the voice released,
the unheard body, the naked, shivering
idea of sound? What are you now, climbing toward
my mouth out of the canyon mouth,
surrounding me with screams of torn
clover and broken shale, a body broken whole
from my teeth? I would lay out
the prairie of my tongue, my throat,
but you do not want return
as I do. You have grown too thin
in the shape of air, in the sound of yourself,
for bodies anymore.
The first sound was an emptying.
The first return, departure.
© 2008 University of North Carolina Greensboro