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Those who do not know say

——-it was nothing but a monastic

trick, the old linguistic


fast that brings God closer

——-by closing the mouth

to whatever might be


savored in this world. But

——-it was the words themselves

which he revered, their latent


song. For he had come

——-to regard as blasphemy

the sanding off of consonants


in a mumble, the stamped

——-foot of a redundancy,

the momentary abyss


of a forgotten name, to see

——-as sin the perversions

of loose syntax, to believe


the fork-tongued serpent

——-must have persuaded Eve

to taste, along with the apple,


anacoluthon. Later,

——-he would chastise himself

for missing the accord


of vowels in an otherwise

——-well-turned phrase, for

the rhyme of incidentals, or

the necessary pause,

——-for breath, mid-sentence.

He would spend hours


in the shade of a stone pine,

——-scoring observations

about the weather, another


ship’s arrival, the fineness

——-of this olive oil, composing

as much for rhythm as for sense.


Hence the explanation

——-for the first miracle—

the spontaneous hymn—


and for all the others after.

——-Of course, they thought him

mad, could not comprehend


his long delay in

——-daily conversation, his

rosary intonation during


the small talk about dinner,

——-the harbor, rain. They grew

cross, gave in to ugly


whispering about him.

——-While he, devoted in his way

to the word, to its perfection,


gave up matins, and then all

——-common prayer, and retired

from the profane,


muttering world, to the

——-reverent hush within

a grove of pines—there


to measure out the rest

——-of his days, and never

to speak again.

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