And This

And this is the way we inhabit transience,
and this is the way we spend ourselves on each other,
both the way in which we sing,
and the way we are known by our singing.

This is the way the night descends,
and this is the way the air closes like water over us, and grows beautiful with singing.
This is the laying-on of hands that claims back the body like a flag,
and this is the way light voices itself—

and these are the hands that sing me back to myself,
and this is the unmouthed song lain over me,
the long-lined vein under skin without center or conclusion,
with only the weight of the invisible heart,

which is a question, repeated: and now? and now? and now? and now?
and the blood-response,  again, again, again, again—
which, spoken, begins to sound a name,
which, named, begins a song

in praise of something that wasn’t and never will be again,
of a name that could be any name, and was,
of too many voices at too great a distance that might be calling you,
or might only be smoking their own throats against the night.

This is the way the night descends,
and this is the way we sing it down over us,
the way it grows beautiful with the song of all that continues,
all that begins and keeps beginning.

LESLIE ADAMS' poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Cimarron Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology: Mississippi, and New South. She is currently a first-year MFA candidate in poetry at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where she serves as a marketing assistant at SIU Press.