Giving Voice

There is something about a trumpet blowing
at the end – the dead awakened, sitting up
in their coffins, reaching out through earth
become no more than a mist on their faces,
listening: but it would be more than music,
more than dark flowers opening toward morning.
Inside each thing I think there is a voice
kept to the last. You’ve heard that story:
the swan that sings only once, the stillness
before the storm. When something knows it is
about to break, it finds a way to speak.
What sound the world is saving, that it keeps
inside rocks and stones and trees, is half
of a long breath. Imagining is the other.

In school, when I was a boy, the teacher said
if a tree fell in the forest, and no one heard,
then it made no sound. That man had no idea
that things speak when they are ready – not
to be heard, but because they are caught up.
First breath or last, dangling by one’s heels
or one’s neck, gasping in pain or in passion –
to give voice is to break silence, to summon
all that we have touched and seen and held
until the circuit of words and syllables
weaving about us like a wind, like the blast
of a trumpet – sounding out of nowhere, growing
stronger, coming closer – completes itself,
and we are one with it, at last, and sing.

© 1986 Jared Carter