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Ode to Vowels (Primarily O and U)

ISSUE:  Summer 1975

            for Denise Levertov

is the occasion
for vines

cucumber and honeysuckle
hang over
even in the sound

of their names,
the rounded vowel sounds
deep and quiet

like the still air
at the root
of a flower’s throat.

these o and u vowels,
their round black bodies
open up silences

between the consonants,
at the shore
depths between sandbars,

a place
not to put your feet.

vowels restore circulation
to knotted
arthritic hands,

the grasping r’s
and hard g’s
of the consonants.

the vowels billow,
in their emptiness
bestow form,

in a warm breeze or stiff wind,
vowels, the clothes
on the clothesline.

on the freshly mowed lawn
i watch o’s and u’s,
black and round grackles

foraging for crickets and worms,
pecking away
at the land between consonants,

and i wait for the surfacing
of the worms themselves,
the ancient Hebrew vowels,

when written, rising like dark fish
in dots and dashes
from below the consonants.


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