Notes for a Course on Phonology

Diana Senechal

Can I ignore the flagellant good-byes
of flailing trees, who lose as they embrace?
Can I forget the flicker on your face,
the green and blue and auburn in your eyes?
Or will I let it seize me by surprise,
that scoundrel death, who leaves without a trace,
snapping the golden thread that you have spun,
that different reason in the rising sun?

The dance begins with sounds.
Step back, and let the feet perform for you.
The vowels make their rounds.

Some come into the light,
knocking the rest into a different hue.
The pattern blurs my sight;

the artist, steeped in rage,
soaking the paintbrush, draws it lone and stark
across an empty page.

The student is a fool
who disregards the reasons in the dark
to memorize the rule.

The consonants in pairs
come forth, some gliding stoplessly,
the others taking chairs.

Some hold the hands of ghosts,
whose flesh and form can come to be
a question of the company
invited by the hosts.

I envy linguists, chemists, the wealthy ones,
the immortal ones. Peering into the gesture,
breaking the leaves into their particles,
they see the seasons as contiguous,
and similar, and not so harsh. I can't—
I myself crumble,
for I see the grace
of your veins, your lonely singleness of shape,
your lonely colors. I will hold you close
and whole. The time for dust has not arrived,
though it is near. Then I will hold the dust.
A different reason in the rising sun.

the reasons in the rising
the guises of the seasons
the rise and fall of tidings
the crumbling of our reasons
the reasons for the fall
the falling of the seas
the risings of the tide
the dying of the trees
the scarlet in your eyes
the scars the stains the sores
(would I give up your glance
to analyze your pores?)

Two suns rise together, for different reasons,
and meet. One sees an endless beginning,
and therefore begins with the end: dust,
ghostly with life. Time never ends
in this golden light, nor does it ever begin.
The other sees an end barely beginning,
a trap of beginning and end, embracing you,
dear dying one, dear urgent living one.

My page is blank with forms, yours filled with formulae.
They fall like leaves from the sun, missing each other's reasons.