I’m just sitting here eating some buckwheat pancakes with an orange syrup contemplating the line from Stephen Kuusisto, a blind poet whose ears have come to serve as his eyes [along with his yellow lab] . . . I too must confess ‘I can’t tell what it means’, this incidental lyric that has caught my attention and that keeps me from hearing what you are saying . . . I guess it’s because what you’re saying I’ve heard before and it does not have the ‘ring of truth’ . . . I’m getting tired of repeating myself to others: ‘What was that you were saying?’ I must have said it a hundred times on my recent trip east of the mountains . . . If my friend asks following a conversation with another fisherman or the fish checker, ‘What was that he said?’ I have to confess, ‘I have no idea! I wasn’t listening!’ Instead I’ve been straining to hear the sound of the coyote moving stealthily through the corn field, or the wild turkeys gobbling somewhere across the river, to the whisper of the current which like the turning tide never stops moving . . . I count my own heartbeats without being conscious of it and then am embarrassed to admit that I’m listening to see if I’m still really alive . . . I listen to see if I can hear a shooting star before it flashes instantaneously across the evening sky . . . I listen for the sigh the fish makes when finally off the stringer the knife slips silently up through his belly and into his gills and the spirit that was in him is allowed to fly free . . . If you say I am not listening to you, you are right: I am instead listening for you . . . But when you pass you will no doubt not see or recognize me . . .
“As I get older the incidental lyric slips through the dark trees
but honestly I can’t tell what it means.” ~ Stephen Kuusisto