Summer 1949 • Vol. XI No. 3 Poetry |

The River Road

Riding south with a grey suit man, A salesman out of Oklahoma, I heard the bugs of every town Swarm families of a minstrel summer: The sorrow's not for one alone. Each made of himself his own banjo. His wings on his applauding thigh Were instrument and claque in one And spoke like the heat made animal: Who started up the sorrow tone? Spoke in their hum the time of the year Along each buzzing metamere. And yet no cadence could be known Except what my ear got from its blood: The sorrow stood before the drone. Night met us and the swampy wood Lit like a stage with waste-gas jets. Bugs beat together like some drum In orchestras of small thumbed guts: The sorrow when the sorrow's gone. However many singers come I was the string, I was the thumber. I heard in a dog day's serenade, Back in the night, each rapid thrummer: Maybe the sorrow is unknown. Back in the leaves each single one Was wing and eye of a whole summer. And Oh, how personal the tune Of thousands thinking

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