An Older Translation
When word becomes sound and love abounds
There is a before
There is the after
The sharp divide
between what once was not
And what will forever after be.
Once at a friend’s desolate land
of silica soil and scrub juniper
and dust-colored rock shadows
where mountain lions hid
We startled awake to a bellowing cry.
We gathered, the six of us,
barefoot in the deck dawn light,
like the yipping coyotes
celebrating their kill, looking out
toward a death we could not see.
A bull elk, according to our friend, who knew
to name the sounds of things.
In the beginning was the sound
according to her more ancient, more scholarly translation
discovered in a dust-covered book in a long lost land.
Not a word, she said, a sound.
Beyond fear, beyond pain
the beast’s cry moved across the canyon
like an aural usher guiding the creature from this life
to whatever follows. A sound not unlike
the gasp of new life
the glimpse and taste of first love.
About the author
A former daily newspaper journalist, now an independent writer of essays & fiction published in several lit anthologies. The Whole Hole Story children's book was published by Versify Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021. More are forthcoming.