Poem for Will
(Will Donicht, fellow musician since 1968, died 21-Mar-98.)
He’s in the stillness, by the river,
in the gloom and hope of evening,
reading the ripple and current,
listening to the rhythm wave.
A hand unseen by all but him
condenses from the vapors, offering
another chapter in the book he memorizes:
the book of changes unknown
To everyone but him.
He makes everybody read it; everyone sees and
someone finally asks why the ending seems
so like the start and there’s nothing in the middle there.
Or is there a middle there so deep,
so wide like a river with no shore,
like a night sky so black
You only feel it?
Now I often see him, though I missed him
not that long ago, holding high the hammer,
delivering the blow that will at once
construct the safe house and destroy it in a
snort of weedsmoke, in a long, reverberating
I often see him on the rooftop, impatient to begin;
see him striding through the wood, hesitant to stop.
Picking up this and that, discarding these and those,
crying out in his plaintive wail when the pieces
will not mend, “That’s just what I was talking about,
See, that’s exactly what I meant.”
Sometimes when the wind is fierce,
from the north and west at once,
sometimes when the light will not suffice
to see how dark it is, sometimes when
the moment passes too soon to be enough,
Nothing will do but a pint.
Ever restless for home, throwing another
crooked log on the venal fire, our man
hoping the heatsmoke will attract a
vessel from the beginning place.
So much light to lie beneath
Such a heap of ash.