A Poem for a Poet

Posted on July 17, 2010

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This week we lost a dear friend Ann Walton back in Wayland, Mass.  She had been a childhood neighbor of my wife and a very close friend of the family for decades.  I only met her in the last couple of years, but we forged an instant deep connection.  One piece of this connection was our mutual love for words.  Ann was a fantastic poet, and had a brilliant knack for quick-witted phrases in conversations that would instantly disarm people.  She wrote and read a poem for our wedding.  She said that she didn’t think it was very good, but it meant the world to us, especially when read by Ann at our reception, in her faintly-South Carolinian way:

Here is the poem (i hope Ann would approve of my sharing it here)

New Hampshire
At our wedding I carried roses
in the shadow of gentle mountains
encircled by firs,
reaching for meadows tucked in fog.
It was our beginning
..
Indiana
We settled in an inviting condo,
freshly painted,
Kitchen counters adorned with shards–
memories of friends left behind
I watch you studying,
a pile of books stacked by the couch–
You look up and say you have waited
all these years to live this life,
then embrace me with a poem.
I’m planning a late garden,
simple this year.
I hope you’ll agree on the roses
for remembering.
.
In our last phone conversation a few days before she died, Ann pointed out that i had not yet written her any poetry, and wondered if i would do so.  I agreed to write one that night, to which Ann replied, in her typical wise-crack way, that i should “..only send it along if it is good.”  At first i set out to write something honoring Ann and the joy she’d brought to my life, but in the end after much pacing and hand-wringing, i thought the best way to honor Ann would be to follow her lead, writing about the complex, rich world of the present moment.  Here is what came out:
.
i’m cursing the cursor
blinking blankly at me
the watched pot
winking, waiting for me
to offer it a word
.
“but i have more august ideas than you can apprehend..”
i say aloud to the blinking line
“..of the Bow Road Poet..”
blink, blink
“..whose words light..”
blink, blink
“..whose quips disarm..”
blink, blink
“..whose spirit inspires..”
blink, blink
“..who says this poem has to be really good..”
.
the cursor line lingers a moment, i think
maybe mocking
but not nudging me nearer to completion
of any sort
“perhaps pencil and paper next time”
i say a little too loudly
to the cursor
blink, blink
blink, blink
.
I sent it off in an email to be read to Ann the following day by one of her children. I never received a reply. I have no idea whether or not Ann ever heard my poem. But i have a feeling she would have appreciated the existential gravity of just such a situation and would probably have written about it, so i’m leaving it alone. I will miss Ann immensely.
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