To sound

In exchange for music, a grammar
lesson: because the piano teacher
did not speak English.

Whole note and half. And how many
violets stoppered in a bottle?
Between things is a rest or a thin

slice of toast on a tray
when words become impossible.
You want to sing? Shape your mouth

as if to tell the river it can be
fire or a nest or the letters of your name
building a bridge in a forgotten language.

You want to speak? Turn the bell upside down
and fill it with rain water. Drink in
the tongue swinging madly in that empty house.

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