August 2000

Robin Behn


Robin Behn Robin Behn is the author of Paper Bird (Texas Tech University Press, 1988) and The Red Hour (Harper Collins, 1993), and co-editor of The Practice of Poetry (Harper Collins, 1992). She directs the MFA Program at The University of Alabama and was a 1999 Guggenheim Fellow.
Gray Poem    Click to hear in RealAudio

Fathoms down, the whale
makes its song for the Other,
fathoms down and fathoms

upon fathoms far away.
The sound ranges out
like underwater mountains,

summits smoothed
by rain falling through
rain through deeper rain.

In the nearness small fish
flash and turn turn
and flash flash and turn.

But the mountains
in the background are still
in the background,

and something moves
along the dip and dome of ridge.
It is like the moon,

no, Neptune lapping
earth one and a half
times in this our life.

It takes the deep keen ear
and the gray heart
of the Other to hear it,

the way you have to turn
into earth
to feel earth turn.
Faith has a slow pulse.
Monks may know,
or those in steady pain.

We met every two years.
But now the undulation of our joy
lengthens to ten.

Around us,
our own lives
flash. Flash, and turn

away from this Other thing
whose crest and depth
undoes us.

Barnacled, sea-strewn pulse
confirming an



Robin Behn: Poetry
Copyright 2000 The Cortland Review Issue 12The Cortland Review