Chard deNiord

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 the author of seven books of poetry, most recently In My Unknowing (University of Pittsburgh Press 2020) and Interstate (U. of Pittsburgh, 2015). He is also the author of two books of interviews with eminent American poets titled Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs, Conversations and Reflections on 20th Century Poetry (Marick Press, 2011) and I Would Lie To You If I Could  (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018). He co-founded the New England College MFA program in 2001 and the Ruth Stone Foundation in 2011. He served as poet laureate of Vermont from 2015 to 2019 and taught English and Creative Writing for twenty-two years at Providence College, where is now a Professor Emeritus. He lives in Westminster West, Vt. with his wife, the painter, Liz Hawkes deNiord.