As we drove that road cut
into the Payette canyon,
tracing diagonal stresses in granite
walls stretched above and below,
the wandering line of river
hidden under pine,
I stayed perfectly silent.

A late June morning, the sky clear
without much wind
or dust.  Sunday, no logging
trucks running.  I had nothing
to say about lichen
covered walls we threaded through.

Oh, now and then a ridge
above us still
held snow, but not enough
to mention.

Yet I mention these things
to you now
as a way of explaining
why sometimes I turn in sadness,
without explanation, try to crush you
in my hands, but it does no good.

If I knew the word, and I don’t,
though I do know many,
I would surely speak it.

And if, when I watched the little flakes of mica
catching light in the river shallows
or watched you combing your hair
at the dressing table,
if I knew what to say
at a moment like that,
believe me, I would.


Hear it:

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