Excerpt from 'Jelly Roll'
Jelly RollA Blues
By Kevin Young
Knopf Copyright © 2003 Kevin Young
Quite difficult, belief. Quite terrible, faith
that the night, again, will nominate
you a running mate- that we are of the elect
& have not yet found out. That the tide
still might toss us up another-what eyes
& stars, what teeth! such arms, alive-
someone we will, all night, keep. Not
just these spiders that skitter & cobweb,
share my shivering bed.
You, rare as Georgia snow. Falling
hard. quick. Candle shadow.
The cold spell that catches
us by surprise. The too-early blooms,
tricked, gardenias blown about, circling wind. Green figs.
Nothing stays. I want to watch you walk
the hall to the cold tile bathroom-all
night, a lifetime.
Lover you leave me autumn, tilling, a man
tending his yard, or one not even
his own. Outskirts of town a farmer
one-armed, walks his fields into fire-my neighbor
on his knees with a razor trims his lawn. Next door
I am in the pines- grass thirsting, and up
to here in weeds- poison,neglect,
I have tried to forget- nothing works. Let
the birds rabbits termites have the run
of the place, the worms, I will take them in
"Elegy, Niagara Falls" for Bert King, d. 1996
Here snow starts but does not stick-stay-
is not enough to cover the bare thaw-
ed ground. Grief is the god that gets us-
good-in the end- Here-churches let out
early-in time to catch the lunch special-at my local
hotel. Sunday- even the bus boy has your
face. And still having heard some days later you
were dead- I haven't caught sight-day