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.