I can hear you singing (a sestina)


I did not come expecting tears
or joy, when I met with you
for dinner, on that long ago evening;
nothing more than conversation,
a pleasant hour or two, good food.
I did not expect there to be singing.

And was there any singing
on that night? No dreary tears
marred it, and I did enjoy the food —
I almost always do, with you.
As it went, congenial conversation
was not all we shared, that evening.

The sun went down, and evening
turned to lucent night. Call it singing
if you like, or even conversation
of a kind; no hint of future tears
in bodies moving, in skin and you,
heart’s ease, soul’s food.

The body has demands — plain food
is not enough to sate it. Evening
brings honeyed thoughts of you;
my skin is shivering, singing
its frustration, would weep tears;
it has no patience with conversation.

I do find delectation, in conversation —
the dance of words serves as needed food
for hungry minds. Salt tears
do not always matter, in pale evening,
when words come sweetly singing
down telephone wires. You

tell me stories in the dark; you
fill my ears with quiet conversation
bubbling softly, and your singing
sends me safe to sleep — songs are food
for hungry dreams, and my evening
ghosts lose their power over tears.

My tears are fewer, since that conversation
when you and I shared more than food…
In my long evening, I can hear you singing.



for Jedediah, on his birthday