Every wolf’s and lion’s howl
Raises from hell a human soul
If it ever took a life, it is unaccounted for.
Stone tumbler. Giant’s breath. White death.
A growl ripped in a gurgle. Throat’s cavern
jerking air down dark eroded instruments
of granite. I’d like to tell you that voice exists
before the sound of words, and somewhere underground
in embryonic dark learns to attach itself to the drive
of creeks. Elsewhere, it’s said, men fear the lion
for its roar. Paralyzing, it possesses something
in the human ear, interlocking gadgetry of bones
fusing in a finished puzzle. Gorgon’s petrifaction.
Above the cataract, through willow branches,
faces of deer rise to the surface of vision
like half-waterlogged heads. A stag among them,
antlers craned like a basket tipping silence.
Hymnal static of it. In this slick abbey
hugged by cottonwoods they are monks
who have forsaken language, their terrible
lessons on the precedents of speech:
amnesiac as infants, Latin for unable to speak,
seasonal engine of water in its endless Babel.
Published online July 28 2018.
Jordan Mounteer’s poems have appeared in numerous Canadian and American publications, and his work has won or been shortlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize, the Montreal International Poetry Prize, PRISM international’s Poetry Contest, and The Malahat Review’s Open Season Award. He splits his time between travelling and his home in the Slocan Valley, where he works as a freelance writer and editor.