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Seattle Participants

Nancy Peacock



The sound of a tree falling is a kind
of groan, an aching, a fleet
bleating outward
to a last fall,
and then the echoes emerge,
vibrate down the valley and into
the plains of the Kok River, mingle
with the river words, the river rustle

like the reverberations of any deed that is final,
in some other time and place perhaps wrong,
a sound few bother to notice.


English is the richest of languages, the most
mellifluous, but still
my words stumble for the exact mimesis,
and you, the reader, I feel you see through
my efforts to sketch a world
and its downfall, to go beyond my only tool.
Do we run out of words
for describing, and now repeat ourselves?

There is a ribbon below, a river,
and it is blue and winds away past view.
Green crowds up on all sides to another
blue.  There are hills.  The sound of logging trucks,
saws, and roosters mingle
with the pinging of bells here
at the monastery.  The ringing is the wind's
voice as the others are not.  Can humans learn
to be receivers, to be like the bell taking in
and letting go, an alteration that becomes
and becomes more than itself:  beautiful?

Or does that stop your imagining, take you
somewhere other
than bell and wind and valley?

No, more than nouns, emotions prismed
in sound.  Bells echo a long time, emanate,
expand past the point where we attend,
after identifying "bell." Our emotions alter, deepen
long after we've named them or paid attention.
They resonate, become. Or scar, or redeem us.
Perhaps leaving traces some might
know as beautiful -- if they noticed.
To be more like a bell,

less like a saw.  Shaped perfectly
for reception;  waiting, not acting.
Until.  And then.  Not to be one's self, that noun,
anymore, but in receiving, new
every time.  Accepting, blending, and then
the singing out.
                         - Jill McGrath

Seattle Participants

Nancy Peacock


Nadezhda's voice trembles during the test -
it's the last time I teach her class; Nadezhda's
voice like the fir trees I saw last weekend reflected
in a pond, upside down, blurry, transformed.

At the potluck party on the last day of class,
Jeonglim and Saraswati talk about Indian scarves
while Sashinee stands by the chicken she prepared
making sure I will not forget the Thai sauce.

Alla, Pavel, sing a sad folk song in Russian -- Romeo
and Juliet at the kolkhoz, Alla, Pavel -- voices like waves
growing apart, getting back together, Pavel starting
couplets, Alla joining when she remembers more.

Two months ago students sat in the class isolated
and unattached like dark burnt stumps in a clear cut
forest.  The class today is like the pond where trees
are linked by the water against the image of the sky.

Sky in water - long feather-like clouds swimming
in the blue water-sky, sun, shadows, sun, feelings
rippling through me, and the firs around leaning
on each other, lines shivering with wind, alive.
                                                           -Christine Eisen