The sign for “forgot” is a hands cupped
on your forehead, flinging an imaginary idea.
The first part to leave is memory.
A horse left too long in pasture,
wants what is on the unknown fields.
What we need is a safe deposit for memory.
One a pickpocket cannot open,
but the key is a magic word
at our fingertips
as butterflies of music.
They taught a gorilla sign.
My deaf father refused to learn to sign.
He preferred placing his fingers on your lips
to feel the words
and what they really meant.
He knew the touch of anger.
There is nothing worse
than deafness in our hands.
A horse grazing in heat waves
of black flies, each biting, as a tail
Grandfather hammers distance
using the sun for blacksmithing fire.
He blows on the iron as it glows, sparking,
speaking to him in a different handwritten song.
The bellows whoosh.
When hot metal meets water, sparrows
startle-break through trees,
flapping light crazily in all directions.
My father could not hear any of this.
He held silence in his hands
lovingly like a ball of energy.
The silent world was running
in his hands as a storm of horses
refusing to be handled.
There is a drawing book of life sketches.
Inside were hands composed by Da Vinci,
offering solutions to perspectives.
I knew these sketches in my heart’s fields,
fingering those hands,
their perspective, those hidden lines,
their curvature, their flight taking off in sadness.
I felt it. Like one feels light.
Like strings caught in your fingers,
stubborn as burrs and soft as horsehair brushes.
Over the quarter mile of moveable silence,
seeds are nesting. No distant hammer
on metal, nor tail
wiping sleepers into action.
Like also-ran horses put to pasture,
like furrows in fields match the grooves
in your hands, like bird’s small bones
seem unable to lift such sorrow into flight,
like music in the fields beyond sight,
seeds know what is expected of them.
It is written in them, penetrating their surface
as barns filling with light
like buckets of milk.
In these accordion days, restless words
are under duress.
We are handed over some fingered memories.
We rub worry-beads with silent prayer.
Words swirls duckweed in a pond.
Language cracks milkweed
into powder-forming clouds
shaped as horseshoes.
Words stand in sun too long
shading their eyes for the movement of lips.
All one finally hears
is the arabesque of tail among blue flies
repainting the sky
with sign language.
A pinhole of light flashes
distant heat lightning
through cracks of fingers,
sounding like rusty bedsprings.
My father could tell the difference betterif he could only get a hold of it.
Martin Willitts Jr is a retired Librarian. He has over 20 chapbooks and 8 full length collections. His forthcoming collections include ), “How to Be Silent” (FutureCycle Press), “God Is Not Amused With What You Are Doing In Her Name” (Aldrich Press).