The Names of Things

The Names of Things


All this desperate searching, striving,

buttoned up to your chin

in absolutes.


For you, brother, I say

sit awhile under the trees

and listen


the way we used to,

little ones drenched

in birdsong and wonder.


Lead Dad by the hand

the way he once led you,

have him name every thing.


Sleepy brier, news bee,

yellow root and ginseng,

prickly ash and whippoorwill.


Throw open your doors

and windows, let in the mountain air

and a little red dust, too.


Notice the scent of weeds in rain,

rabbit tobacco, tansy,

phlox and bramble, spice and sweet.


Listen to the way early morning

crepe myrtle hums on the wings

of a dozen kinds of bees.


After a time, birds will become

thrush and finch, again, and

bugs, katydid and cicada.


Linger still, past all naming,

until you drift, once more,

on mountain song.


hear the notes sound

from within, take up the song

in your own tongue.


That, brother, will be

your balm, your bread,

your sweet salvation.



Originally published at Main Street RagĀ 

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