There’s so little inside me
you’d think I was a balloon
if I didn’t weigh this much.
I’m not a balloon. What, then?
Maybe a hollow iron sphere.
Knock on me and I make
a pleasing sound. I’m a bell,
a closed bell, dark inside.
Knock on me and see
if you can understand what I say.
I’ve spoken an empty tongue since birth.
Now I’m old and resigned to it, but
there was a time when I tried
to crack myself open and become a full throat.
It never worked. Here I am, then,
a hard ball of air. When things are hot,
it’s hot air; when things are cold, you can guess.
Things are hot right now and I’m boiling.
Not likely to crack but if you swing me, I’ll bust heads.
If it gets cold, I can break them just as well.
Understand one thing, though: I’m not one of you,
will never be. I’m the big hard void and will be,
before and after your war. You need a bell like me.
I do tend to ring your way. It’s an accident, really;
a mistake in your favor. Think of me as eraser,
here to shift the ledger; to wreck it
and in the process of wrecking it
to crack myself open at last,
make my one rightful noise, then shatter.
I have no illusions. You won’t want me
then. Will have no need of my voice
once the breaking’s done. In a time of war
you seize the nearest weapon. I’m ready.
I’m your rock, your branch, your
morningstar. Let’s swing. Let’s sing.