Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Excursion of the Speech and Hearing Class

Some years ago, when Tay was very little, I came across this poem during an English class at Buffalo State. It quickly became my favorite poem (that I hadn't written, of course). It's been hard to find, and I've looked for years for a copy of this poem, finally someone (else) posted it online.

In hopes of not losing the text again, I'm reposting it here:
The Excursion of the Speech and Hearing Class
by David Wagoner

They had come to see the salmon lunging and leaping

Up the white spillway, but the water was empty.
Now one young girl lingers behind the others,

And slowly, her thin arms held out from her sides,

Alone on the riverbank, she begins to dance.

Her body moves as the salmon would have moved

In place, holding that place in a soundless calm

Under a soundless frenzy of surfaces

Against a current only she remembers

To welcome, to break through, to gather again.

The wind and the river pulse against her face
and under her feet.
She listens to what they know

And moves her lips to find the mouth of the river

And the mouth of the slow wing against her mouth.

The source of the river and the source of the wind

Have taken her breath away. But the others come
Shaking their fingers, opening and closing
Their mouths, to take her back to another silence.