Once Met Hears Without Ears - Jim Cunningham

old truck had a flat
at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo* mountains
on a rutted brown road, by a singing stream,
swollen from snow melt, the sagging bridge across
looked too tired to handle our load

we replaced the bald tire
with one equally hairless

we were washing
the grit and grease from our hands
in baptismal waters, when we saw him,
so small we were surprised he could walk,
and her, at the other end of life’s long string,
so old she moved like a question mark down the bank,
a bucket in one sinewy hand,
the tiny boy’s paw in the other 

we crossed to greet them,
though neither of us knew why... 
but we were under an infinite blue sky 
and on four wheels again--what else was there to do,
but cross the rushing waters to meet strangers
by a strange road? 

the little one spoke, with words so small
they disappeared by the time they reached our ears 
how we knew what he was saying we would never recall 
though we did as he commanded, taking off our shoes,
placing our feet in the cold current, following his lead
in this dance on a nameless road 

the ancient one never uttered a word,
but gestured to us, to the sky, to the blue green peaks,
and to the waters at our feet, and told us, with skin and bone 
that the blood of every-man flowed from the high country,
and washed our tangled toes
and simple soles

- - -

*Sangre de Cristo: "Blood of Christ" mountains, a range in northern New Mexico in the USA.

Jim Cunningham is an American writer who spends most of his time in Texas, on the blistering edge of the Southern Plains. He has lived in the mountains of the desert southwest. The poem, "Once Met Hears Without Ears", is based on a reverie from Cunningham's 2006 play of the same name.