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An Older Translation

by Vivian R McInerny 2 months ago in nature poetry
Runner-Up in From Across the Room ChallengeRunner-Up in From Across the Room Challenge
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When word becomes sound and love abounds

An Older Translation
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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.

nature poetry

About the author

Vivian R McInerny

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.

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