by Jake Adam York

Forgive me if I forget

with the birdsong and the day's

last glow folding into the hands

of the trees, forgive me the few

syllables of the autumn crickets,

the year's last firefly winking

like a penny in the shoulder's weeds,

if I forget the hour, if I forget

the day as the evening star

pours out its whiskey over the gravel

and asphalt I've walked

for years alone, if I startle

when you put your hand in mine,

if I wonder how long your light

has taken to reach me here.

Natasha Trethewey writes, in the New York Times Magazine, 2/18/15, “The poet Jake Adam York died of a stroke in 2012, when he was only 40. This poem calls to mind the hymn “Abide With Me,” a prayer for constancy: “In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.” I have been in a plaintive mood recently, as I remember the many friends I've lost over the years, including Jake. When I read the poem now, I am struck by a kind of prescience in the elegiac lines, as if he were speaking his last words to the beloved, knowing how those of us who lost him must now abide.”

David LaMotte


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