Learning to Name by Walker Bass

 for Bill Brown

He’d know the oak he evoked
for me in workshop, the one that marks
my place of peace, awaits me at its bend
in the trail; that chestnut swamp oak.

In his place of peace, he sits on a hill;
below, smoke from a chimney curls
and an apple orchard (now
supplanted by a music studio)
promises future fruit.

He’ll watch from crows’ height
this forever scene—

he’ll be forever wrenched
on beauty and brokenness,
the haunted sorrow a violin can play,
a fog over a bayou, the ethereal
emptiness – he’ll be wrenched forever
by the father dying in his arms.

Wrench, as circumstance wrenches,
turning the teen to a path
that tunes his inner ear
to hear the boom of paddle on pirogue,
a girl casting for channel cats, a rusty pail
of chicken livers kissing red smiles
on a boat’s floor.

He hears all this, though the eye
only sees fog and 
of cypress trees
hung with Spanish moss.

Walker Bass’s poems have appeared in Nashville Arts Magazine, Blast Furnace, Third Wednesday, and Number One. In 2017, Walker began a two year mindfulness meditation teacher certification program. From 2014 until recently, he worked as a caregiver for his father-in-law. Walker and his wife, Mary, live in Nashville, Tennessee.

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