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            The Language of Stones

Words & music by Geoff Bartley 1990. Published by Joshua Omar's Music (BMI). All Rights Reserved. With acknowledgement to T. S. Eliot. Used with permission from the author.


1.   (spoken) I watch for the snake charmer, with her burning eyes and fertile belly, standing on the river bank at noon or midnight, wreathed in the smell of birth and the notes from a wooden flute.   Here where the forest opens, the leaves and petals are luminous, edged in silver, poisonous and medicinal.   I would be the surface of the pool to see both worlds at once, as self-contained as the snake, to be at home in my skin, at home on the mountain's face, drinking from clouds, talking with the dead, jiggling with holiness, every sinew spitting sparks.

CHORUS (sung):

      I am learning to speak the language of stones
      Like rivers over rock, life flowing in the bones
      A fire in the wind, an ocean over sand
      I am traveling home where I once began
      Knowing for the first time where I once began
      Full circle ... full.

2.   (spoken) The strangest landscape begins to look familiar.   I can walk this country in my sleep: signs of divination, the maze of emergence, and ritual dreams for saving the soul of the world.   The sounds are as intimate as breath.   Our lips move over the syllables like a blind woman's fingers over the face of her firstborn.   Insects hum at the forest's edge and the sun stops overhead.   Smoke rises from a ring of river stones and the ashes are thrown downwind.   The smell of sage and cedar will be on my skin forever.   Everything becomes sacred.   Bits of thread flutter from the bushes, as if marking a trail.

CHORUS (sung):

      I am learning to speak the language of stones
      Like rivers over rock, life flowing in the bones
      A fire in the wind, an ocean over sand
      I am traveling home where I once began
      Knowing for the first time where I once began
      Full circle ... full.

3.   (spoken) You weary nations, perhaps I am some new being you've never encountered before.   Yet there is nothing about me you can't recognize.   I live in the place where you perceive nothing ... look again!   I am the arrow point that finds the boar's heart.   I am the flicker of red from a blackbird's wing.   I am the feathers sprouting from your most secret wounds.   You will teach me of flying; I will stand on your shoulders and leap.   And all will come right   —   I swear it.   We will meet where the forest is deepest, where the night is blank, and there are no stars, for I am your annihilation come to make peace.

CHORUS (sung):

      I am learning to speak the language of stones
      Like rivers over rock, life flowing in the bones
      A fire in the wind, an ocean over sand
      I am traveling home where I once began
      Knowing for the first time where I once began
      Full circle ... full.