Bienville

(nominated from Poets.org to go to the September 2007 IBPC)

It is my job
to distill the news
and e-mail it to my dad
who gets half an hour
twice a day
on the Internet
at the Alexandria library
to see if his house
has taken on water

there is a lot I read
but don’t send

a woman floating
her dead husband to the hospital
on an unhinged door

the dogs
the rescue workers describe
frying in the power lines

people trying
to break into Children’s Hospital
as if there weren’t enough
sadness there
for just one place

but between us
there is that one house
on Ridgeway Drive
that hasn’t taken water

and Great-Aunt Nialta
who expects a phone call

to make sure
you got home safe.

The Perfection of the Word

“In the beginning was the Word. . .”
— John 1:1

I used to lie on my bed
and browse the great
catalog of creation,

the dictionary.

Who could have known
that a is for apple
could cause so much trouble —
a lexicographer’s nightmare —
that b is for bite
would beget
e is for exile
m is for murder
all the way down to
z is for zoo
(the animals in the garden
having no need
for c is for cage).

One wonders
what was before the word?

I used to stare
at the spaces between letters
until the words became
without meaning
without form
and void

repeated them
until the sounds came
like speaking in tongues

and then let them
drift back into being,
understanding

watched
as the word again
became flesh.