for De’Shaun Davis
I have been watching the sky for you.
It is a mangle of clouds, a maul of pink matter.
I have been calling around for you.
October and all I can remember is the certain risk
of a necessary winter.
November expands in breath. December explodes with scents:
crackle. waterlogged. stony.
A year passes. Then two. Then three.
At the end of each, a lie I return to like a touchstone: I knew you
enough to grieve you this way.
A woman named Charlotte takes over your Facebook page, posting angry
rants, music videos from YouTube.
Friends beseech her to leave you alone.
who can we beseech on your behalf?
How can we employ language in your wake?
I am in Mississippi now where all travel is time travel, a place
where anything is possible: a girl at the bottom of a river,
a warm muffin from the window of a car as I wait for the bus.
Still, I wait for the impossibility of symmetry.
In California, you crumpled to your knees in a yard purpling over with bougainvilleas.
In California, I, the year Oakland erupted in riots, watched the news cast you in the image of America.
“Ukiah man arrested / in fatal shooting / of dumpster diving transient.”
You, the man
Or, the [transient]?
I cannot say.
Memory says no one
Summer camp is not a _______.
Once a camper always a _______.
In truth: a gunshot rings out one November and no one is around to hear it.
So it keeps going off.
You become a friend in the leaving having been barely mine in the living.
I become a f iend in the grieving having only been troubled in the wake.
Isn’t it strange?
That the autumn you were murdered was the first autumn
everything was made anew?