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 Rag 


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