On Hearing a Poem Recited, Not Read

by Christine Walker

for Larry Robinson

The poem flew at me
Little darts, pricking my skin
piercing my belly, my arms, my eyes
Flew at me on swift, black wings
trailing a smoky blur past my ears
Flew all around me
furious, then curiously quiet
No words sounded like words
read from a page
They had been lifted
the night before, years before
Flipped up, one by one
letter by letter let fall
on the tongue and dissolved
like melting snowflakes trickling down
through the heart, into the belly
to the toes, the fingertips
Pulled back through the blood
through the brain
down into the back of the throat
into the cheeks and spit out
Little darts of words
big wings of words
charging the air all around me
There were no words, only language
Tongue moved by muscle and blood
The poem entered me and exited
leaving little points of pain and light
soft feathery strokes on my skin and hair
Leaving me empty of words


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