Two Poems by William Minor


The Mother Who Taught Me to Speak Softly

The mother who taught me to speak softly
amidst the massive waste of words in the world,
its incessant noise, the constant burden of
bullshit, the overload of chitchat and petty
concerns--the mother who taught me to speak
like soft music amidst this din, can no longer
hear me.
        Totally deaf in one ear, and losing
whatever may be left in the other, she,
at ninety-six years of age, has simplified
her life to a single word: “What?” (meaning
“I cannot hear what you have to say anymore”).
I don’t know how to manufacture merely audible
words, as my wife--who may even be getting
too good at that and tells me I must speak loud now
when I address my mother--can.
                        So much of what
I want to say, softly (as my mother taught me),
gets lost now, is too much of what she taught
me in this strident, overbearing world. My mother
also taught me to truly mean what I say always--
another lesson just as futile as the first?

The Death of Love

An art of discipline it is: learning not
to regret, learning to do without,
learning more than longing for. Love
at the start just says what it means;
love in the middle yearns and frets;
love at the end invents a language
even lovers do not like, but use, preserving
while disbelieving that something once
so rich can fall apart, come down to this:
They no longer stare at one another, searching
for what they cannot comprehend
but found once in each other: a life beyond,
larger than their names and hearts.

          "It's just not fair then,
waiting, waiting, waiting so long
to walk into your body, or you in mine,
that thing we will never do again." So in a dream
then, sweetness fills the palate, eyes meet,
and all the wild warm blood sings out
for love: a leap in the air,
Nijinsky weightless, mad, no compromise, no
tentative dervish, but a world
as light as all that open space
before it, and days to fill.

          And days descend,
endless, like steps to fountains
in Versailles or distant Petrodvorets.
"Two worlds--Versailles and Petrodvorets--not ours
for we are worlds apart as they are not,
coming to mind around steps and fountains."
An art of discipline it is, then, learning
just when and how *not* to love, just
where to learn the place they call their own
a perfect garden: just how, without a world
or word of regret, to forget.

Bill Minor