I Can’t Speak

God is the Being…that may properly
only be addressed, not expressed.
— Martin Buber, I and Thou

It’s hopeless. Our heads are full of television
But images fall apart when you enter a room.
And if not television, then words.
Poets, philosophers, intellectuals, theologians—
Can any of us truly love you?
And if not words, then equations.
I want to talk about kissing the small piece
Of nameless, edgeless geometry you’ve shown me
And how grateful I am. But should I say I’m the pond
A star fell into, or a rock: Should I talk to the homeless,
Or lovers, or new mothers? Or dying uncles
In their hospital beds?


Anyway, I can’t speak about you,
Only to you, there’s the whole trouble,
As if, when I tried to turn my body aside,
Some absolute force twisted it back around.
If I insist, It’s my body, my mind,
My own mouth, I’ll say what I want,
I have a right to,

You simply laugh.

— Alicia Ostriker


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