It must have been around that time
when the first thin voice appeared
above the chalky knuckle of the hill
and Old Jack, if he’d had an antenna,
which of course he didn’t, might have
tuned his dial to its frequency, an inter-
mittent squeak like a cricket in a chink
of the hearth on an evening when the fire,
his only light, slumped in the grate,
and the dark pressed in, and the static
was the rattle of the silence he’d been born to
dying off. These days I walk the twisted arm
of Heather Ridge to the high, bruised elbow
where they raised the radio mast, bolted
its feet to a slab they poured across a chain-
linked humerus of Ozark bedrock, and hoisted
its lantern into the nightsky’s starry bitumen,
and now even in this briarpatch so far
from everything, the backhaul’s jammed
by a million megabits per second, and the night
is a blinking fume of cloud bombarded
by the signals of the light-dome city over the trees
and the asphalt vein of post-game traffic draining
south, and I am thinking how the prophets
in the Bible were so often shepherds, those far-eyed
wanderers come back to share what they’d heard
in the scraggly brush and stones while a disk
of light careened across the firmament, and yes,
I stalk the woods around our place and strange thoughts
drift into my mind, and I know that the dark of the past
was the dark of ignorance, and I wouldn’t want
to go back there, I’m not saying that, and I’m not thinking
of lining my hat with aluminum foil, not yet,
but sometimes I long for the silence under silence,
like the moment between when the wind dies down
and the crow squawks or doesn’t,
that amplified and immeasurable nothing out of which
some disembodied voice might speak my name.