Absence

by Peter Grandbois

“Howl, howl, howl, howl.” — King Lear

A coyote’s howl announces, “I am here,”
or “stay away” depending on

our memory of the folding night
and the capricious way weather names us  —

enemy or friend.  The deafness of trees
in winter reminds us that words fall away

the moment we find them.  What silence wants
is to carry what we cannot across

the crack between earth and sky that threatens
to swallow each cry of our wounded lives.

We wonder how to get through most days,
searching for something we lack the language

to name, barely knowing how much of ourselves
we can take, afraid to ask how much will remain.