by Richard Hoffman
Do people sing there? Do they,
when they see that shadow
not a shadow but a shift, a falling,
find some words and try a melody?
Do they lift one another?
Reach out their hands and pull
sorrow to its feet, urge it to dance?
What instruments shape the air?
The time? What do they sing of
there in that ravaged country?
Who might instruct me, patiently,
to hear their songs and understand?
Do they know I intend no harm?
Who might teach me restraint?
A hand on mine, a finger to lips
to bid me silent, whisper, “Listen.”
Richard Hoffman has published four volumes of poetry, Without Paradise; Gold Star Road, winner of the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize and the Sheila Motton Award; Emblem; and Noon until Night. His other books include the memoirs Half the House and Love & Fury, and the story collection Interference and Other Stories. He is Senior Writer in Residence at Emerson College and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University.