MAYFLOWER

Fall 2012: Issue 92

Jake Adam York

For John Earl Reese, a 16-year-old, shot by Klansmen

through the window of a café in Mayflower, Texas,

where he was dancing, October 22, 1955.

 

                       Before the bird’s song

                       you hear its quiet

 

                       which becomes part of the song

                       and lives on after,

 

                       struck notes bright

                       in silence

 

                       as the room’s damp—

                       wallpaper and wall

 

                       muffling the high cicadas’

                       whine, mumbling

 

                       talk from another room—

                       hangs like the thought

 

                       of a roof in the midst of rain

                       long after the joists

 

                       have been brought down.

                       So the quiet

 

                       syllables crowded

                       full-throats once the talkers

 

                       have gone away,

                       and a young man’s voice

 

                       becomes a young man’s

                       silence, all

 

                       he did not say,

                       which nothing keeps

 

                       saying in the empty room

                       between the pines

 

                       that hold the quiet

                       of the song he cannot sing,

 

                       the sound of a room

                       without sound

 

                       in the middle of what

                       anyone can hear.