It is said that we can no longer use the old words.
Either, they carry in their script the imprint of our
inhumanity: the memory of the naked bodies burned as the
classical strains played;
Or, contain their own blueprint for destruction, the way a
seed harbors in its cells its final, latent corruption.
We have become afraid of them, the old words, as if we
could escape punishment if, for once and for all, they were
forbidden utterance in the public squares.
As if we could walk out to where the river joins the deep,
where the tides plow and reap the untouchable air. There
beyond boundaries, voices.
Yet even where silence and the river Styx merge, there are
gestures which must be transcribed.
And I have listened to your voice at sundown,
breaking with grief, undone by the bludgeoning tool of the
The way that Priam grieved, in the old words, the broken
body of his son.
And heads are still brought openly to the marketplace as if
The old words have blood on them.
But here, under the blackened sun, there are things, in the
trammeled, the ruined, the old words, which must still be said.