Cento of / for Jake Adam York

You can tell yourself it’s just a dream,
knowing somehow / he would be coming.
Trees burn quietly in the morning sun.
It’s almost painful, this saturation
when the light begins to fold into the leaves
and the forest means you are alone.

Names whisper from the sheen
till the righteous sounds emerge.
And now the least of Shakespeare’s birds,
their blues insistent, entrancing,
will catch you, will say:
Tell me now, City of Embrace . . .

So much else is gone –
That man was as white as I am, white as cotton.
He keeps saying their recurring sentences, what he hears
in the whisper songs at the lips of his ears.
And you know that music,
but you can’t hear a thing.

Somewhere there is a name for this,
and someone is weeping on the Tallahatchie’s bank.
And this is how they bury you.
Strain your voice above the crickets
as if that call might end some other way.
And the flickers offer only a syllable—

and one memory will look like another,
hard and white as bone.
When the trees begin to hush
there are no answers / there is no one to ask.
What’s locked, what’s wound will open.
And so the elegy, the mourning song.

Someone could write it down,
the afterward of that last reflection.
The finger is gone that pointed the way.
We do not look back.
The music never stops,
never really goes away.

Originally published in Cave Wall