Monday, April 23, 2012

22 OF 30 Elegy for Angela Lynn Williams

The river lies flat and glittering
between the hills, coal barges
and trains drag the black rock
north to burn, in fall of a rainless summer
fires eat the underbrush

The storefronts are boarded,
the last note of your song
ringing through the brick streets
empty attics and discarded treasures
old records, Ma Rainey , Bessie Smith, Maybelle Carter

You sang rough, barrelhouse belter
and hillbilly choir, old time,
sang the bridge into the river
the birds from the sky

sang spurge and sorrell through the pavement cracks
sun on a broken bottle
dandelions in the brownfield reclamation site
crumbling factories,catfish in oilslick,
hawks above the highway
bones of the horses showing,
ice melting off the highway cuts

dry years blew trash through the streets,
the boneyards filling,
sparked the hills to flames
the city dying, you still singing

in the burning ship of your hometown
the bone of your poverty in your throat
a bittersweet hillbilly twang
in the final resonant spring of your last song
the shuttered shops fall to dust, the trees ablaze
and everything burns in quiet

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