Radiotherapy–Jake Adam York (Poem)


Because they lived near the signal tower,
voltage purring like a church
before the preacher starts,
or because she’s talking
in the very middle of the noise,
the doctor says to pray,
to radiate The Word of God into the boy
and recall each fallen cell
to the righteous body, but all he hears
is grandma’s story, how at night,
if you hold your radio close
you can hear the dead whispering through.
She explains how her sisters
wired their mom’s old Silvertone
after she had passed away,
braiding her hair in the speaker’s leads.
She says that if he listens
he can hear her sisters arguing
over every static’s peak, her mother
saying Time to go to bed.
She starts again.
In the distance someone’s asking
why it won’t stop hurting,
and the church is working like a round,
everyone trying to start
something new,
but all anyone can say
is what they’ve said before,
old stories, old prayers
all that’s breaking through.

Advice for Writers

Poet Jake Adam York died unexpectedly on Sunday. He was 40. He taught at the University of Colorado. He was an undergraduate at Auburn. I was never his teacher at Auburn, at least, not exactly: he was in no class of mine. But we spent a lot of time together and many of his friends were students of mine. And we all talked a lot about poetry and about writing and about living. It is strange to think of him no longer out there (waving westward), writing. –Memory eternal!

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