There is a muttering in the walls but no distinct words;
A restlessness in the corners of my vision,
But no flutter or jerk when I look squarely there.
I turn my head toward it.
My skin cringes and hair bristles as it does
With chalk shrieking on slate or a cold draft passing by.
I try to find the source of the muffled sound:
Did static crackle as I brushed against the drapes or bed?
I retrace my steps: was it door hinges or floorboards creaking?
Perhaps it is the Shechinah, the indwelling
Of the Sacred in this world,
Like a dancer rustling her skirts for my attention.
They say she is the “still small voice within”
But they don't mention that sometimes
She is around not inside us; and sometimes she is mute,
Only communicating in faint groans and gestures.
Perhaps it stifles her voice when so many words are used
To make excuses for what I know is wrong.
Now how to learn this kinesic code?
Luckily it is a language the heart understands.
Still when I try to put that fragile whisper in my poetry
It has escaped every time.
No combination of sounds and breath
Can capture that surd undertone,
Like trawling the riverbed with nets designed to catch sole
But trying instead to ensnare those quicksilver slivers of minnows,
The Divine slips through an “o” and an “a” every time.
written Dec 1979, edited March 2011