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. Linden Lane
.

Ears of the heart

.

by Robert Cording

When we are dying the last faculty usually
to shut down is hearing.

˜ ˜ ˜

St. Benedict said, Listen with the ears of your heart.

And so I try to remember what was once heard
in the practice of the heart's listening:
the surprise of a robin's common song

when I was ready to hear it. And wind saying itself
in the tulip leaves outside my childhood window.

So many times I've needed to learn again
what I am always forgetting—
that each thing has its own pitch and vibration and rings
with the exactness of a bell.

Like the sounds rain makes so differently
filling a tin cup or waterfalling leaf by leaf through
the understories of a forest.

And there's my mother's voice calling
me home for supper and, later, saying goodbye.

When I am dying to the world will the ears of my heart hear—

in a hospital room's trickle of sad laughter,
in the sitcom leaking down
from the television, in the doctor's voice calling my name
when no one is sure I am still listening—

the voice of my beloved moving like light
at the beginning of each day,

speaking in words I have heard but never clearly enough
to write down, saying everything I could never say?

 

Robert Cording, Ph.D.'77, is the Barrett Professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross. His fourth collection of poems, Against Consolation, was published in 2002.

 

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