Vigil

Poetry / Korey Williams

I looked for you everywhere
except the place I knew you’d

stay. Then I stopped looking.
Even your face escapes me,

the way silk orchids in amber
shadows seem real. All the same,

your scent is common—mostly
at the gym, on the bus: lake

shallows in midsummer, night
wind of piss and skin. With hands

behind your nape, you lied
on folded wings, ivory water lilies

drifting, moonlit, round your lobes
like earrings. Get up from there,

is all I could say, not meaning it
exactly—and yet, you stood up.

Late snow gathers on the pane,
so unforeseen that, when it slacks,

just as sudden as it began, there’s
birdsong—staccato; or ruptured;

or the underlife they share, for what
difference does difference make?—

in dingy half-light. According to our
hymn, for which I recall the words,

not the melody, we’re tossed and driven
on the restless sea of time
, and somehow

we’ll come to wisdom. I assume
you’re in the lead (sainted by now)

but the song doesn’t promise an end.

Korey Williams grew up in suburban Chicago and studied at Illinois Wesleyan University, the University of Oxford, and Cornell University. His poetry appears in Assaracus, Fogged Clarity, Winter Tangerine, The Offing, Narrative Magazine, and elsewhere. Williams is currently a doctoral student at the University of Chicago.