after Ilya Kaminsky, Author’s Prayer
By Mason Hap
To understand their words, you need to forget
the blazing beat of your chest.
The self-taught rhythm, a single ember keeping the flame alive.
Life of language, with smoke that squeezes one’s personal circle.
To understand their phrases, you need to char this tiger strength shadow
choking your words and reaching for alien ones,
that seem to hum a love song
without letting out a note.
I am listening to their phrases. They twirl at a distance,
ribbons following the wind, dressed in peacock-like hues that avert the eyes.
Idle in this chamber,
sounds bounce off thick concrete,
a self-taught rhythm, invading
and edging only to reach my ears
while language waits outside the door.
Messy but simple.
There is the me, outside with charred shadows
and there is the me, who only knows the fear of scorching, hot steps.