Advice to Self in Guise of Other

by Fred Longworth
Wild Poetry Forum
Third Place, April 2011
Judged by Judith Fitzgerald

Feel your body—
how it speaks to you in words
that are not words,
the way the voice of rushing water
finds the ear of the riverbank,
or a troupe of sycamore leaves
tap-dances against the silence of the woods.
At this very instant,
your thighs are chatting softly
about the contours of a chair.
Your shoulders tighten and release,
as they babble about the argument
you had this afternoon.
And your heel is becoming friends
with that bit of stone that slipped inside
your shoe. Hear the voices one by one,
or draw their tongues together
like the chatter of a mountain trail.
Now, I’ll be quiet, so you can listen.

The title of this keeper says it all: Pronouns, both personal and impersonal, wreak havoc with hacksaw hearts and silenced souls. Beautiful. The craft demonstrated in images both startling and familiar does not occur by accident. Each word in the poem belongs exactly where it lands, softly, before listeners understand they hear the most holy, most eloquent language of all, the music, the measure, the divine alignment of faith against faith, of hope in hope, and breath, not death, not dying, no . . . Rather, stopping to listen, to absorb this blizzard of sense and language in the harmonious chaos of "the chatter of a mountain trail." --Judith Fitzgerald