Mary McCormack Deka's "Here"

All writing is a dance with meaning and music. We tend to think of poetry as being more musical than prose, and it often is. But prose, too, can be filled with music. By music I mean writing that pays attention to rhythm—to the accents of each syllable and the way those accents interact—as well as sound—the subtle inner rhyme, for example, of words that share the same vowel, or the alliterative flourish in a certain emphatic or playful line. We tend to be such visual beings—most of us experience the world primarily through our eyes, and unless a noise is sharp or loud or otherwise striking, we don’t always hear it.

In her poem “Here,” Mary McCormack Deka invites us to shift from our visual orientation, just for a moment, and to indulge in the music of language. The poem’s speaker closes her eyes and listens to “sound bringing story,” in Deka’s words.

So, I invite you to follow suit. Close your eyes and open your ears. Listen to the music of Deka’s language in this poem.

Ice breaks into silk
and the sun spins
its strands, light-
handed as an old woman
at her loom. The sun
closes my eyes.
And without sight it is sound
that brings story. Sound
that pulls reeds up
through ripples, stretches arms out
until fingers touch sky, stars—sitars,
instruments whose strings
weave night
and day
Pluck, and the moth-glow moon
hums, hovers in air.
Pluck, and up leap grasshoppers, up
leaps whistle from tongue.
Twigs bend. A blue jay’s weight?
Calls resonate in the cold.
           akee aquí.
akee aquí.
In my eardrums:
hum whistle leap
crack split spool
In my mouth the words:
here. i’m here.

“Here” was published in the journal Storm Cellar in 2012. You can also find it on Mary McCormack Deka’s website at Mary is from Urbana, Illinois.