No one hears a word of what is whispered
into the bark of trees. All they see are names,
carved hearts, and special dates—curse words
that someone scratched into orbit around
a Gaelic prayer. But nobody hears the echo
of wood as it splinters into a distant meaning,
or the beautiful things a man once tried to
confess to a woman, long before the war
turned them both ugly. Nobody hears the
Labor Days, or the small parades, or the
moments of nothingness that winter brings.
No one hears a beetle braving the distance
between two fading initials. All they hear is a bird
they can’t describe, scanning the bark and translating
one dead language into another dead language—
something that the world mistakes for a song.
John Leonard is a professor of composition and assistant editor of Twyckenham Notes, a poetry journal based out of South Bend, Indiana. He holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University. His previous works have appeared in Poetry Quarterly, Sheila-Na-Gig, Fearsome Critters: A Millennial Arts Journal, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Burningword Literary Journal. He lives in Elkhart, Indiana with his wife, three cats, and two dogs.
Find him @jotyleon on Twitter.