Weekly Poem: ‘Redemption Song’

 

By Kevin Young

Finally fall.
At last the mist,
heat’s haze, we woke
these past weeks with

has lifted. We find
ourselves chill, a briskness
we hug ourselves in.
Frost greying the ground.

Grief might be easy
if there wasn’t still
such beauty — would be far
simpler if the silver

maple didn’t thrust
its leaves into flame,
trusting that spring
will find it again.

All this might be easier if
there wasn’t a song
still lifting us above it,
if wind didn’t trouble

my mind like water.
I half expect to see you
fill the autumn air
like breath–

At night I sleep
on clenched fists.
Days I’m like the child
who on the playground

falls, crying
not so much from pain
as surprise.
I’m tired of tide

taking you away,
then back again–
what’s worse, the forgetting
or the thing

you can’t forget.
Neither yet–
last summer’s
choir of crickets

grown quiet.

Kevin YoungKevin Young is Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English and Curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University. He is the author of s the author of seven books of poetry, including “Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels” (Knopf, 2011) and “Jelly Roll: A Blues” (Knopf, 2003), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the Paterson Poetry Prize.

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