| The Years of Miriam, The Brief Years |
A horrible person of no consequence has just left us.
Hundreds of poems are now being written.
She simply went indoors and sat down,
Probably in that chair where the sun falls in through the sliding glass door,
On the paneled screen of poem-paintings,
To read a letter.
Too long. Enough.
The bright effort with no companion.
This most sociable of all persons, with no one to scold daily,
No one with whom to make the weekly protest march.
This lavish lady old enough to be my mother
(Who happened to have had an abortion the year I was born).
This horrible lady who fed us coffee, scrambled eggs, cream, butter, strawberries,
And those pseudo-Scandinavian meat spreads,
Whose letters and cards will not come again.
Who had taken of late to writing advice: Move back to California! Don't work!
Once in a place we did not know,
We happened to discover Miriam in a hospital with a broken leg.
For once she was speechless as we appeared in the door of her room.
Quickly recovering, screeching, "You horrible people! What are you doing here? "
So we trundled up and down the elevator,
Sharing bad coffee with a morose Laurent
On the hospital patio in the greenish air near the mountains.
Talked of the usual matters, wars and poetry.
Again in that same place we none of us knew, later, 1997,
I was impatient with her, not because she was old but
Because she was mad at everyone at Naropa and
Because she wanted to sit up all night in the motel room and I wanted sleep,
Because she was on her high horse --
Laurent wanting to attend events, every event, but not she,
Not any event, and
Because they must have regular dinners with meat and potatoes and a salad in front
And dessert at the end, and not some fly-by-night
Vegetarian concoction at the college lunch stand,
Because she was cranky and bossy, and
Because they must rent a car --
But, thank God, I gave her one minute particular pleasure,
Taking her and Laurent to Dairy Queen
Which brought smiles and forgiveness all around.
I was horrible.
It became our ritual nightcap treat that week, sitting in the dark, nibbling our strawberry sundaes.
I miss you now, though I won't call you back.
The little Sierra Court house, the panels, the festivals, everythintg, everything,
Because we were there together,
Because you are passing away and in some different kind of way
I and my life and family and everybody else is passing away too,
But you know, if your voice could suddenly shout down from that sky,
I know what you would most certainly say:
Abolish Capital Punishment!
Stop the Wars!
(and I think)
Have some meat!
- Zoe Climenhaga
March 12, 2000