Fall 2009 / Issues / Poetry 2009 / Volume 40

Sonnet on a Line from Elizabeth Bishop — Anne Higgins

If you taste tears too often, inquisitive tongue,

you’ll crave more salt on everything you eat,

taste blandness even in the rarest meat.

Tears tear, obscure the vision of the young,

too many elders leave their loss unsung,

often deny the pain they daily meet.

Inquisitive neighbors murmur and entreat;

tongue locks the secret grief away among

long stored up packets far back in the deep freeze.

Avoid the frequent tongue touch to your grief;

instead, taste food whose sweetness pain will ease

if you would seek a gossamer relief.

The tongue will savor sweetness more than salt;

with icing more than cheese your pain will halt.

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