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
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.