Stop and Listen
Sometimes the woods at night are so still
the sound of your own breath
abashes you, to say nothing
of the racket as you walk.
 
Sometimes talking helps, saying
a poem, or even, if you’re going downhill,
singing. Other times there’s nothing
to do but stop and listen, or even sit
 
and close your eyes in the name
of attentiveness. In daylight,
there are birds, and for some reason
the wind too is always awake,
 
delivering weather or dust.
At night, you concentrate
and your listening is enhanced,
and sooner or later you will hear
 
a scale of bark let loose from a tree
or a needle tick from limb to limb
on its enormous journey to the earth.
And sometimes, having resumed
 
your walk, you will stop at the top 
of the ridge above your house.
Its window lights will illumine the ground
around it, and you will listen again
 
and hear the faint hum of it—
the buzz of its light bulbs, the industry
of its clocks. And sometimes
you will approach it as would a thief
 
and peer through the windows,
in order that you might covet,
being part of the world’s greater silence,
everything that is already yours.
Copyright © 2004–2014 Memorious