Kate Fox, "That Evening Sun"


That Evening Sun


       “The best line of iambic pentameter is not in classical
       poetry but in W. C. Handy’s ‘St. Louis Blues.’”

                —Elizabeth Bishop


Let me end this song on a not-so-minor note, 

rest my head on this Gibson L-1, sing goodbye 


to every lyric I have ever learned: the one about the boat 

that can carry two and the lonesome picker, the one  


about how Louise rode home on the mail train 

and how walking is most too slow. And, of course, 


the one about riding down the canyon that, even after

forty years, conjures my father on a Saturday night 


wrapping the fingers of his left hand with adhesive tape,

swaying and slapping an upright bass in some small-town


dance hall while my mother glides across a floor strewn

with corn meal, and my brother and I fall asleep among coats


piled high on folding chairs against the wall. He once 

told me that music was the one thing he could count on,


married, as he was, in 1929, his first child, a girl, born

and buried a year later, a life of lung trouble that finally


sent him out West to either die or get well. At thirty, 

I took him at his word, picked up the guitar he gave me


the one around whose neck he wrapped my fingers

and taught me songs that survive on breath alone:


how the water is wide, how I won’t be worried long,

how I hate to see that evening sun go down.



Kate Fox's poems have appeared in New Virginia Review, West Branch, Windsor Review, and Green Mountains Review, among others. Her chapbook, The Lazarus Method, was published by Kent State University Press as part of the Wick Poetry Chapbook Series.