James Son of James
Rain falls at 4 a.m., December 8,
And I stand and soak and shiver
Alone in the pre-dawn darkness.
It is so much easier to cry, in rain:
Am I the old man sliding across
The wet and slick blanket of
Leaves (the yard a mass of colors),
Searching the fog for solace, crying?
Or just the gentlest storm of drips,
Thirsty ground drinking, the old man
Speaking words only earth and rain
Hear: ‘Jim,’ ‘has died,’ ‘James gone.’
On Friday James son of James, ‘See you
next week,’ in truth: pure folly which
Is hope, language which is symbols, for
We never ‘know’ what we ‘know.’
‘The old man’s brother has died,’ Earth
Tells its seeds, ‘The old man and Jim’s book
Of James the Elder, a Black father in war’:
Then, children, our voices stilled. The dead
Outnumber the living, you see: ‘The universe
Living, dead, forming, reforming like jazz,’
The old man thinks, ‘my tears, drips of rain
A refrain, a Psalm: Jim, I loved you, love you.
It is so much easier to cry, in rain.