The Music of What Is

This poem by Jennifer Lighty is very dear to me and is referred to in the previous post, regarding what the real job of a poet is:



The Music of What Is


  for Juan


The curtain billows inward. Wind

carries voices in a language I don’t understand

through the barred window. After three months


I should know more words. In this wind,

my father’s voice telling me how his mother

would rise from the kitchen table, hands lifted


to feed gulls who dropped from the invisible

as soon as she stepped over the threshold.

This wind, lifting the curtain right now, unveiling


the light that burns holes in the street outside

where there are no shadows to shelter

the pregnant dog begging at my doorstep.


Inland, in the dry season, I walked down

until I reached a spring that rose through

underground roots without rippling the surface.


The earth swelled to receive it before giving it back

to the clouds. I sat with reflections as they broke

and reformed.


My grandmother reached for me across

the invisible. We lifted our hands to the gulls.

Let go.


I don’t need to know what wasn’t said anymore.

Why my father wept behind a closed door.

The thin curtain flutters like butterfly wings,


caressing the bars. Rain begins in between

the bass notes from the bar next door

as the descant of barking dogs bursts


over the town. Outside my door, the pregnant dog

whines for love. I open my lips to receive the rain,

lying on my bed beneath the window,


they pool under my tongue

until I swallow,

drinking the new words.








This poem by Jennifer Lighty is published here with her granted permission. “The Music of What is” is her intellectual property and is ©copyrighted material of the author.









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