On the fifth day

the scientists who studied the rivers

were forbidden to speak

or to study the rivers.


The scientists who studied the air

were told not to speak of the air,

and the ones who worked for the farmers

were silenced,

and the ones who worked for the bees.


Someone, from deep in the Badlands,

began posting facts.


The facts were told not to speak

and were taken away.

The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent.


Now it was only the rivers

that spoke of the rivers,

and only the wind that spoke of its bees,


while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees

continued to move toward their fruit.


The silence spoke loudly of silence,

and the rivers kept speaking,

of rivers, of boulders and air.


In gravity, earless and tongueless,

the untested rivers kept speaking.


Bus drivers, shelf stockers,

code writers, machinists, accountants,

lab techs, cellists kept speaking.


They spoke, the fifth day,

of silence.


On The Fifth Day by Jane Hirshfield

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