John Montague’s most recent volume, Speech Lessons, is full of lyrical poems about childhood, memory, and family. Our selection for today stands out from this subject matter as a poem about poetry itself.
Poetry is a weapon, and should be used,
though not in the crudity of violence.
It is a prayer before an unknown altar,
a spell to bless the silence.
There is a music beyond all this,
beyond all forms of grievance,
where anger lays its muzzle down
into the lap of silence.
Or some butterfly script,
fathomed only by the other,
as supple fingers draw
a silent message from the tangible.