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Speaking in Tongues


Cats sing to him
of found holes in screen doors,
dancing to freedom on daggered tiptoe,
wild leaps for outside
(which Albert refused to join)
where bird legs dangle in flight
just out of reach.

They sing, too, of cold,
and of old cats dying,
and of stalking times
when the mole dug into the basement.


Leaves curl in semaphore stories to him,
of drought and cat teeth biting
and redwood idols.

Variegated flags flicker
of the hungry dark, of old leaves dying.
Pollen-gifts drift to his head as he reads
and the envious ivy seeks entrance.


Fish swim sign language
in a theater world,
double-features of fin and tail
splinter the exhibition dark
with tales of old fish dying.
Spelling schools in cat-eye panic.

Scaly mimes mock his water-twisted face,
gravity, his opacity.
The barbs tease, tinfoil,
while the loach plays dead.


Woodpeckers morse
tippy-tap, tippy-tap,
on the neighbor maple,
crests frilled for spring and bugs.
Notes of grey cool days, and old birds dying,
of stalking times
when all but Albert found the screen holes
and birds flung themselves
just out of reach.

While crows scream overhead
that he is learning all their secrets.