Helm

1940-2012

  
I can hear Levon singing Glory,
Glory,   Hallelujah!
just as clear as the land curves
into cropping fields, gold mirrors
of water, the late-coming shadows
over hills, smell of pine, as if
his lungs were earth-made organ pipes,
and if you lift these stones,
it might come again.
That sound—it must have been
the creak of my father’s voice,
its stony ledge, as if to say
he was wise-enough. He too
was of the land. You must learn
that edge from the rough.
I can hear Levon singing Glory,
Glory,   how kind he was
to strangers, how he heard
the cool resounding, unknown verse
of the dirt-poor, the out-of-luck,
the loveless, and the work-no-more
though they had no epitaph.
I can hear his voice cracking out
of the gravestones, distilled
tension in lifeless bones.
My father tilted his head, hummed
a song when he swept,
shined a floor, and I could hear
the music in the work,
the howl lifted out of the body,
a track beaten so hard it shimmers.
And the funky-brass geese fly
keeping time when we’re gone.

 

 

 

Jesse BreiteJesse Breite’s recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Spillway, Crab Orchard Review, and Prairie Schooner. His first chapbook, The Knife Collector, was published in 2013, and he is an associate editor for The Good Works Review. He is also librettist for three of Atlanta composer Michael Kurth’s scores, one of which the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra premiered in March 2018. Jesse teaches high school English in Atlanta where he lives with his wife and son.

Header photo by SD-PICTURES, courtesy Pixabay.

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2 Responses

  1. Debra Tayloe

    Such a truly lovely poem. I can hear him singing, yes, I believe I can hear him.

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