Living Language
Byron Hoot

Every time I say, “I’m done talking with the dead.”
another conversation begins from some snag
of a memory the size of a hangnail barely seen.

There’s no way for these conversations not
to occur.  They wait in ambush at the
places where silence has claimed, echoes

hesitate to enter -- suddenly the language
of the dead is living once again.  I have
tried to put guards at the borders

of the living and the dead but they are not
ghost watchers, can’t read the invisible
invitation of a feeling or word or thought

that is so much more than it appears to be.
I used to pretend the language never changed,
they couldn’t speak in the present tense,

but I was lying, refusing to believe what
they had to say,  that language is always
living even from the mouths of the dead.

So I’ve decided that listening is the best
thing to do, maybe if heard once, their
visits will be fewer, the way hearing

what someone has to say satisfies in ways
words can’t express.   Truth to tell, I’ve
started to look forward to what they say.