In Doubt, Recalling Cordelia
I cannot heave my heart into my mouth.
Or one hundred-eighty swallows turning south,
or the hen-and-chickens clustering on the garden wall.
That is not all: I cannot tell you all
the scroll of steam uncurling from the tea
might say about what is, or what might be
the common bloodline of this apparent world.
Its speech is locked away, a furled
flag of an antique country, since just a minute ago
was autumn, you saw it, the gold funeral fires, the smoke, and now
come these white billions, already, each irreplaceable flake,
and there is just too much to say for them—to say it would take
a tongue as old, as young, as Alexander, for too much goes
unnamed, unnoticed, more is coming, it snows
and snows all day and night and buries all the words.
But we are still responsible for them all, responsible for the birds,
the burning leaves, the climbing vine, we are the only ones
who can say just what it is we saw. And progress swells, a new scene runs,
and still we drop our lines, forget,
the silence piles up in drifts, we let
the words get lost, the tongue stalls—
How can I say how I love you? The burden of the old tune falls
out of my mouth like a stone. And do we name them cursed or blessed,
who love according to their bond, no more, no less?
Leon Weinmann earned his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois in 2001. A poet, classicist, and musician, he has taught English in Massachusetts and in Rome, Italy. He recently completed his first manuscript of poems, The Engravings, and is currently at work on a book of essays about contemporary Italian culture. (firstname.lastname@example.org)