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.