Sharon Berg: Code Speakers

Photo by Clu Soh on Unsplash
You and I author a code, like quipu, 
the talking knots tied in ancient times.
Semantic elements of lived memory recorded
by the signifiers used, specific knots, though perhaps
understanding data encoded in language loops
requires someone to live (almost) in our shoes.

A system of phonograms hides
within twists of words 
we assemble as poetic verse.

You and I speak a cipher others must heed 
to truly understand, we learned a
code over time as we dodged violent hands, 
encounters in family homes founded on broken trust 
and long-healing violations of childhood innocence. 
Yes, we knotted our perceptions as children.

Poetry presents ideograms
interpreted through silence 
and the cartography of words.

You and I share a cryptograph, a key to
deciphering what we conceal - core beliefs - 
that persist, though hidden in wells of sweet water. 
The key to the crypt is difficult to discover 
though it manifests in code talk, the connections 
made between whorls of sound and silence.

The ply of word cords, length of syllables,
colours of language ‒ like skin ‒  
are only a record of our perceptions.

Bound through language and act, 
an enigma presents for interpretation, the hitch 
being the perplexity of gnarls presented in verse. 
Yet the willingness of an audience to untie rosettes 
composed of sound and graphology, discovers
the heart in our linguistic roses.

Sharon Berg is Poetry Reviews Editor at Artisanal Writer. She published poetry books with Borealis Press (1979), Coach House Press (1984), and most recently Cyberwit (Stars in the Junkyard, 2020). Her fiction collection Naming the Shadows is from Porcupine’s Quill (2019) and The Name Unspoken: Wandering Spirit Survival School (BPR Press, 2019) won a 2020 IPPY Award for regional nonfiction.


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