Chard DeNiord

Vesper
November 24, 2018 DeNiord Chard

The sky is blue for reasons other than atmospheric ones.
“It’s okay if you hear voices,” she said.
I might have smiled at her long ago.

Language strips to its bones at evening and clatters, clatters.
I sit as still as the trees at dusk and watch the birds
give vanity a name that has only a sound—a kind of buzz.
Or is it a hum?

A breeze scatters my hair that has grown over my eyes.
My mother’s hand?
How light her fingers have grown and wide.
How quiet her voice and clear.
It is too easy to believe and therefore religious.

A hawk spies me from above and circles the meadow
below the house where a mouse disturbs a tuft of grass
at the risk of her life.
A maple’s leaves applaud the silence.
No, they rustle in the breeze.
Blueberry, raspberry, pear.

I feel music playing inside me.
“Take down its notes,” says a voice that sounds like mine
but isn’t, “and lose it, lose it.”
The instrument is taut, hollow, and old.

The sky is blue because…
The silence is sweet because…

I point instead of speak, which is to say without saying it
that I know how deafening is my voice, like all the voices
that drown the music in the pit below the stage
I call my emptiness.

Chard deNiord is author of six books of poetry, including Interstate, The Double Truth, and Night Mowing. His new book of interviews with nine contemporary poets, I Would Lie To You If I Could, appeared in July of this year from the University of Pittsburgh Press. He is the poet laureate of Vermont and lives in Westminster West, Vermont.