Echo I

Echo I
August 1960

Illinois, with its hot August nights
when the corn with its narrow spaces
like confessionals can hide a girl
who wants to share the cool green secrets
and learn the names
of all things dark and wild. Who talks

with the incessant chat of crickets, talks
to the deepness between the rows of night.
And she can hear the whispered secrets
across the empty spaces
of the midnight house. Names
she can make out – the girl’s

brothers, their many girlish
wives, dozens of children. Bad marriages: talk
of divorce, abuse, prison. Murderous secrets
to be hauled out and interrogated through the night
in those vacant spaces
between dusk and dawn. Named,

her mother’s tears—her father’s hot names
for fury and rage. Listen—you will be the girl
to witness and fill in the blank spaces
and you will tell all—you will talk
to the hollow halls of night
between the rows of corn in its secret

field and divulge the secrets
of being young, back when you learned the names
of stars that shone like truth in the night
sky, lying on a blanket in the blackness: a girl
and her father, talking
in the dark of outer space,

of how a large balloon can rise and travel the spaces
above the earth: those shining secrets
of Mylar and gasses. How you talked
together of the satellite’s name,
which he couldn’t remember—a girl ‘s
maybe? But the names for midnight

you never spoke—nights appointed shame , silence, secret –
while together you watched Echo arc across dark space, named
for that girl who said too much—who learned it’s better not to talk.