Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (Issue 26, February 2013—Tribute to Jake Adam York)

Tribute to Jake Adam York

Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum
To the Mudbug

Back to this creek they’ve come, cutbank

carved through cypress roots, soybean

rows in the field. For once, it’s not

the memory that concerns them: the August-

hot, the trout not out, and John

across the river— that mudbug crimped

to the skin between thumb and finger

like the flesh between the cheekbone

and the corner of the mouth. For once,

it doesn’t matter that kingfishers

turn air drills low across the water

or that John’s cries of pain must sound

to the mudbug like a chainsaw’s

chortle gibbering through pines. Rather,

it’s the mudbug who, set free, zigzags

sediment back into its nest— an upturned

half of an hourglass, the funnel spider’s

spiraling canal. For once, it’s the mudbug

who ranges ebb to ebb, its patrol

of the water’s expanse, the mudbug

who knows exactly where home is

but nothing of the hook they stitched

through its segments. It’s not about them;

it’s what they will become. When

they die will they be reborn: bark

of a cypress, cricket singing between blades

of rye? When they die, will they be returned

to these blessings of fire we all are born to,

these blessings of fire we so rarely hold?