By Alison Hicks
I attended, the way you listen to water,
not comprehending but relishing the flow.
More muscular than whisper,
dropping in volume and pitch
at its most vulnerable, as if drawing a curtain.
I the more desperate to hear
what request for repetition could only dissipate.
There was humor there, wryness,
even crusted over with anger, gentleness
that made me ache.
How could I tell all this?
Training my ear and straining
though fatigue pulled at my eyelids.
What I really wanted was something
the voice pointed to, a way to rest
beyond the words,
though I would never give up listening.
It was a path, and I followed the logic
of its aesthetic up and down, rounded vowels,
palatals and sibilants, to its natural conclusion.
Alison Hicks was awarded the 2021 Birdy Prize from Meadowlark Press for Knowing Is a Branching Trail. Previous collections are You Who Took the Boat Out and Kiss, a chapbook Falling Dreams, and a novella Love: A Story of Images. Her work has appeared in Eclipse, Gargoyle, Permafrost, and Poet Lore. She was named a finalist for the 2021 Beullah Rose prize from Smartish Pace, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Green Hills Literary Lantern. She is founder of Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio, which offers community-based writing workshops.