A single word -
slide the tongue across lips, moisten
the twin sisters coated with the accumulated dust
of a day’s travel, pronounce ‘Tripoli.’
Feel vocal chords thrum over sounds
the mind makes in an absence of consciousness.
The plucked bass causes lips to vibrate,
the tingle, an anchor moving up through water,
bursting free as the sound moves down the ear canal
and into the open sea of memory.
The experience of associated consonants
and vowels trip the senses, conjures images
of a time displaced in the shifting sands -
the sounds of the word, the timelines
that tinkle, an Indian girl dances, head askew, hands
at the end of a series of angles, fingers clap symbols
in the synaptic paths
paved first in sandaled feet, dreamt of in caves,
before spears became bombs and fire, the flames
to sear the flesh off differences.
We all speak in tongues.
The single word, loaded with past periods, prods us
on a journey to a place
that exists in our minds, a contemplation
of a time displaced in particles called children
who experience the world
upon the humped-back voice of preceding epochs.
Words make sailors of us all; we travel
upon sound-waves back to moments
where histories rise up as pyramids, where
fading events, like the rusted, scattered, bloodstained
remains of battles, first entered language.
The starting point’s faint echo
conjures up visions of sand and animals
eyes of now have never seen. We feel the imprint of feet
upon a landscape lost through choices
or the avalanche of planetary forces.
Once uttered, words defy
a short trip between two points. Dictionaries
hold only a fraction, cannot define
wrinkles casting us back to places we have only seen
with the clarity of the mind’s eye. Language
moves outside the flimsy barriers of the here and now -
we are the flesh and bone singers of history.
Words are not a journal of the distance
lost, they are a ripple of the effect
the shifting landscape has had upon us.
The span stretches back to the unknown, the landscape
seen, is fragile as thought. If the light shone
is too harsh, if truth
is too brightly sought, the listeners
do not leave their lounge room, minds do not fall
into the tunnel of imagined connections.
Displacement is lost in facts, but a whispered moan,
a faint, modulated call, a certain pitch,
becomes a vessel upon the ocean - water
flashes faint on distant waves - draws
the ear, draws the mind, makes the body thrum,
brings images closer to the stroking oars -
flesh stretched tight over the hollow that is history;
a father’s sad, lost eyes, the sound
of time’s echo, a mother’s quiet voice
calling, ‘Come, come, come back to me now.’