Echolocation

John Sibley Williams

The forest is darker than the darkness around stars.
To organize things back into shapes & faces, we listen
for where one body ends & another begins. We estimate
                                         & assume. We hope
tracking disembodied voices will someday spell out
the name of the country we’ve lost & forgive
us its trespass. That any animal can see like this!
                               Can map the world by its wail.
But who needs eyes or hands when everything is burning
darker than a rekindled cross, so dark it’s impossible
to tell one shadow from another; what could be a ghost
              or predator or prey calling us back
              to a home we’ve never left.
 

John Sibley Williams headshotJohn Sibley Williams is the author of As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize, 2019), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, University of Nebraska Press, 2019), Disinheritance, and Controlled Hallucinations. A nineteen-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Wabash Prize for Poetry, Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Laux/Millar Prize. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: The Yale Review, Midwest Quarterly, Southern Review, Sycamore Review, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, Poet Lore, Saranac Review, Atlanta Review, TriQuarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, Mid-American Review, Poetry Northwest, Third Coast, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.