Field Sermon: Reenactment
John Sibley Williams
Somewhere in the close darkness, pinned to shadow, in the small hour just before those delicate fires dawn ignites in you take hold, a mule deer steps into range and your father asks is this not what we’ve prayed for? and you answer again with a bullet that misses its mark. Then morning comes with its empty hands raised overhead like surrender. Later, war. Then another autumn with its trees undressing into your mouth and that sticky metal sleeplessness of having learned, finally, to kill. Then there it is: another boney halo of antlers, lit from behind, though detached now from a body’s fire, a body’s grace. Another chance to make him proud. Yet another breathy chant to no one in particular. Your father is dead. And his Father. The morning hung- over from night. When you ask it, the world gives you its throat.
John Sibley Williams is the editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies and the author of nine collections, including Disinheritance and Controlled Hallucinations. A seven-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Vallum Award for Poetry. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: The Yale Review, Midwest Quarterly, Sycamore Review, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, Poet Lore, Saranac Review, Atlanta Review, Arts & Letters, Columbia Poetry Review, Mid-American Review, Poetry Northwest, Third Coast, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.