Francisco Aragón

Poem with Citations from the O.E.D.

First:   voz  because I recall the taste
of beans wrapped in a corn
tortilla—someone brings it
to me, retrieves what's left
on the plate, the murmured vowels

taking root, taking hold—mi
lengua materna. Then later learn
another spelling, label the "box"
where sound's produced, draw too
the tongue, the teeth, the lips. The voyce

that is dysposid to songe and melody
hath thyse proprytees: smalle,
subtyll, thicke, clere, sharpe...

in thirteen ninety-eight. But what
of the deaf-mute, his winning shout

—BINGO!—knocking me over?
Huxley noted: voice may exist
without speech and speech may exist
without voice
. The first time I spoke
with my father was on the phone, so his

was all I had to go on: that,
and what he'd say—things he'd hear
"inside." In Doctor's Dilemma
Shaw wrote: When my patients
tell me they hear voices

I lock them up. The pitch, the tone, the range:
a way of trying to know him. Now hers
and his are in the pages of a book:
Un baile de máscaras by Sergio
Ramírez, his characters echoing

words, rhythms I heard
until she died, hearing them as well
for months after whenever I spoke
with him. Who hath not shared that calm
so still and deep, The voiceless thought

which would not speak but weep.




© 2003 Electronic Poetry Review