If Not for Silence

If Not for Silence

In their mad Sufi dance words whirl off tongues

loose as hot snakes as we struggle to speak with rudiments—

mostly we quarrel, walk away, but sometimes manage

to weave them like a lovers’ embrace beneath that open-voweled moon,

which vacillates between  the startled suck of air through pursed lips

and a night so long that, shy, she slips beyond the sun’s unerring watch.

Words electrify nerves till air feels like a panther lapping our luminous skin,

but it is silence that exposes our fiery hearts to serpentine tongues,

silence that would strip our marrow if not for the pulsing muteness

of flesh kneading flesh, of snakes and stars and moon-shackled seas.

Thank you to the editors of HOT FLASHES 2 for first publishing this poem.

Hot Flashes