A weight in air, silver and sudden, the fish gone back
into water. A word’s like that, flashing
against the force always pushing back, which rushes,
indifferent, in a hurry that is its pace, as it carries
everything, even mountains, its way.
A word will get through, its weight
its sense, but weightless mostly,
every word water and air and wriggle.
At the broad foot of the low hill they bunched up,
your listeners, those who had seen others gathered
so gathered themselves up for the story or stories
that flickered through as they turned an ear,
them the body water forms standing, and whatever
you said seemed larger, the light bending around.
What you said moved through them and
went on, homeward. The bread on your truck was
warm from the morning baking, so words weren’t all
that got them, were not all that filled the air. Their faces shone
in ordinary light, not jeweled up like colored stones
in the waterfall’s sink, neither polished nor glimmering.
When you finally served, and the people spread out,
a line that grew longer as they talked among
themselves, you got your first unselfconscious smiles
from mouths chewing. “I don’t know,” one man said
as he bit into the butter and the crust, “I don’t know
things like you. This, you know, is good. This bread.”