Falling Landscape by Silvia Curbelo


Full of feathers and stone, silence and song, Falling Landscape appears to have been crafted from "the vestige of some/elemental language." With a knack for disguising wisdom as plain-spoken observation, Curbelo's poems are infused with insight the way sunlight fills a quiet room. The lyric voice is rarely this accessible, this unwavering, this pure. -- Campbell McGrath

Silvia Curbelo's poetry is accomplished, daring, full of energy and intelligence; it is the generous manifestation of an authentic and original gift. Her poems embody imaginative honesty and a free-ranging and fresh sensibility. I think they should be welcomed and read with care. -- W.S. Merwin


Before the Long Silence

Some words open dark wings
inside us. They carry us off
in the telling, the air going on
beyond language, beyond breath. 
It's the small moments
that change everything.
On the last night my father
woke from a long, restless sleep
and pointed to a corner
of the room. A bird, he said.



It was a wing, it was a kiss,
soft as a word, or as breath
in the middle of a word. It moved
through the air like smoke then fell
as quietly and deliberately
as any falling thing, a word, 
a wing, a leaf, or sunlight
falling through leaves, heavier
than air, the way music
falls sometimes, or wind
after a storm has cleared.
But it was softer than that
really, like new snow falling
on the still-green grass by the side
of the road, or a certain kind of silence.
I thought there were clouds
in the distance. I thought
I saw an olive tree, or a birch, maybe. 
I thought there was wind
and branches moving overhead
and the birds knew me.
It was a wing, a word, a blade, a kiss.
It was a song, it was a kind of singing
as if somewhere someone was singing
and I could hear the air moving
through it, that perfect rushing sound
like blood rushing over bone.
But it was more than breath, more than
music really, the vestige of some
elemental language suspended
in space, then falling the way a leaf
falls, or a voice, any voice.
I thought it called out to me.
I thought it said my name
in the pure reverence of light
and air, right where I stood,
the rain sinking its small
bright teeth into the earth.
But it wasn't rain, it was not
that kind of falling, not
rain, not a stone, never a stone
though I could feel the weight of it
the way a stone has weight
and texture, and language, and a voice.
And if I leaned my ear against
the trembling mouth of it
I could hear my own name softly
falling, a shining, falling thing
like a coin or a wish. It was
that real. It was in the air,
still falling.

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