Saturday, August 1, 2009

Song sung in a minor key

I remember the time when
by the pond I sang for you.
You were happy to see me then.
But now we sit worlds apart,
singing our different songs
(or perhaps it is the same
in dissonant melancholy keys).


Thomas Edwin Willis


I never heard him recite a single poem,
except that old King James Version of
Romans-chapter-seven. Tangled words
pouring out; Chrysostom at eighty-nine.

He was educated: a country scholar—
college at sixteen teaching in ‘seventeen,
writing poems to Ada and Sara Jane.
When he moved back to Tennessee he kept

teaching. But he was lured by the love of trading:
auctioneering (again, the sound of words
slipping across those golden lips of his)!
He knew very well his love of language

would get him in trouble some day.
Depression settled in and he found himself
working a team for the W. P. A.
His derisive lyric abuse of his boss

cost him his job (it was only a song).
But if he could recite those lyrics again
I’d swear to him, I’d give them new voice.
It was too bad. I never found that poem.