Ring All the Bells of Silence!

16th Rainbow Family Gathering of the Tribes
July 1-7, 1987, Nantahala Forest, N.C.
July 4 Circle for World Peace


The silence of all but the poets
and the children
fell at midday like a stealthy dawn,
a clown on tiptoe
darting from kitchen to kitchen
with a finger to the lips,
awakening the camp (the poets
irreverently scribbling)

The sunlight streamed down over us
like an anointing
as we assembled in our solitary vigils
out of the thousand
shadows of the woods into one, our hands
found one another
seeking the ancient figure they know
(inspired circle, cipher
of our common forgotten tongue, a prism
for the daylight
like the stillness of a huge bell, hushed)

Our listening lasted
the arc of an hour across the meadow:
then we each gave our
deepest breath to Earth and Sky, naming them
Home again, one voice
ringing ridge to ridge of the listening trees,
the circle of mountains
(the kids meanwhile preparing their surprise,
a parade of noises
and that anarchist hymn, laughter)

The silence of all
but poets and children stole away again
through the jubilee,
a mute elder on crutches, lifting wild
antlers at the edge
of the forest and vanishing toward twilight
(the poets alone
watching, silent amid the celebration, and
scribbling it all down)