Remembering Ed Zimmerman




Ed Zimmerman was a man as protean in his professional life as in his devotion to family, and friends, and to the arts, especially music, textiles, and poetry. His poems appeared in a full-length collection, A Piercing Happiness (2011) and a chapbook, At Truro (2012). He died October 6, 2012, at his home.


Ed was born June 11, 1924 and grew up in the Bronx, the youngest of three children of immigrant parents. His father, Benjamin, came to the U.S. as a 12 year-old with a sewing machine hanging from his neck and made a living as a tailor in New York's Garment District. He never learned to read or write English, but he and his wife Toby made education a top priority for Ed and his siblings, insisting "a B+ isn't good enough for a Zimmerman." 


Ed graduated from DeWitt Clinton High at age 16 and attended Columbia College on a New York State Regents scholarship, while working part-time as a movie house usher at the rate of 33 and 1/3 cents an hour. While at Columbia, he began writing short fiction and poetry. He also embarked on a self-guided education in classical music, traversing all of Beethoven's string quartets until he found his favorites, the final ones, which he felt "broke all the rules" and which, at age 19, he chose for his funeral.


Ed graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1944 then joined the Signal Corps-6th Army. He was in training when the U.S. dropped the atom bomb and on leave in Los Angeles with a buddy a few days later when Japan surrendered. He wrote, "The celebration lasted through the night. We, being in uniform, were repeatedly hugged and kissed by women of every age. We cooperated." Serving in occupied Japan, Ed monitored the VHF radio transmission stations in the hills of Kobe and worked in Yokohama as editor-in-chief of an Army newspaper.


Lt. Zimmerman came home in 1946 and enrolled at Columbia Law School on the GI Bill. After graduation in 1949, he headed off to Oxford to study literature for the summer then settled down to the serious business of law, first serving as a law clerk to U.S. District Judge Simon H. Rifkind then to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stanley Reed. He went into private practice at Sullivan and Cromwell in New York in 1951. That same year, on a boat to England for vacation, his name was the last on the ship's manifest; the first was Caroline Abbot. They married in 1956.


Stanford University Law School came calling in 1959. Ed loved teaching at Stanford—and taking writing workshops with Ken Kesey and Larry McMurtry—but he was equally proud of his work recruiting the best and the brightest to the Law School faculty. In 1965, he took a sabbatical to work in the U.S. Justice Department, where he served as Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust in 1968 and argued before the Supreme Court in U.S. vs. Container Corp., a leading case on the antitrust implications of information exchanges.  In 1969, Ed accepted a partnership offer from Covington & Burling and practiced antitrust law there until his death. Ed was also a Founding Trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council.


In 1975, Ed began collecting Oriental carpets, buying pieces that "spoke" to him. His interest in celebrating the beauty and craftsmanship of handmade rugs drew him to Washington, D.C.'s Textile Museum and eventually to its management. He was President of the Board of Trustees from 1986 to 1996, helping lead a period of enormous growth and stability for the museum. The museum bestowed its Award of Distinction upon him in 2008 in gratitude.


Ed's deep knowledge of and passion for the arts—from classical music to textiles, opera and ballet—found its deepest expression in his love of words. There were summer workshops on the Cape with poets Alan Dugan and Stanley Kunitz, afternoons composing verse at his beloved country house, Goose Woods, and weekly meetings for nearly 30 years with the Capitol Hill Poetry Group, some of Washington, D.C.'s finest poets. Ed's poetry has been published in The Partisan Review, The Other Side of the Hill II, Hungry as We Are, Ten Years-Castle Hill, and The Innisfree Poetry Journal. He was also a featured poet at the Library of Congress Poetry-at-Noon Series in 2009.


Ed is survived by his wife and muse of 56 years, Cassie; his daughter, Sarah, an architect; his son, Lyle, a biologist; his daughter Miriam and son-in-law, Steve York, documentary filmmakers; and his granddaughter, Rebecca York, an artist and musician. 


Ed's poems previously appeared in Innisfree 9 and Innisfree 14. In this issue, we present a selection of poems from his books as well as a few left on his desk at the time of his death.  At the request of the family, Ed's poems are preceded and succeeded by two poems from two of his friends and colleagues in the Capitol Hill Poetry Group, Jean Nordhaus and the Editor.


[To download a PDF of this page,  Please click here]



I.  A poem by Jean Nordhaus:

The Natural Sonneteer
for my friend, Ed Zimmerman

Whatever he has to say, he writes it down
in supple, figured lines.  He never counts.
Yet there are fourteen exactly, every time.
A miracle of sorts, like fish and loaves. 
Always there is enough.  And not too much.
Ancestral music shuddering from the brain
as if that measure, patterned in the genes
were foreordained, a law of nature
ravishing the pulse, a Roman justice
closeted in chambers of the beating heart.
He wears a coat and tie, a four-in-hand,
and walks with grave decorum through this life,
iambic, antic, musing as he goes
on love, fine tapestries, and heroes' grief.
[first appeared in Poetry (1994)]


II.  Poems by Ed Zimmerman:


Blue Sea in Every Window

 

After too many decades away we return

to the small house on the dune, to the white

bare room with blue sea in every window.

Time has mangled people and mangled places

there are gaps where close friends used to be,

frames of new houses despoil hills

and swales that flowed like bayberry velvet,

the beautiful girl we knew has become a wizened

bird of a woman.  We walk the road going

to the house where our small children once played

but now see only brambles, the rose-trellis ruined,

and cannot find a pathway in.  But the sea

is constant and its rote soothes us in our sleep,

the morning light continues to startle, the sun

is red at night as it sinks into the bay.  And you

defy the years and again become

the girl I knew from the tiny sea-side town

who is learned about yawls, ketches and skiffs,

jibs and foresails, about the patterns of the tides

and the winds, about who is truly skilled in sailing

and who is not.  I stand grateful and amazed

that you trusted your life to a landlubber,

unskilled, awkward, always surprised by the weather.

                                                     

[from A Piercing Happiness]

 

 

After Pruning

 

The apple trees stand butchered but alive

they will bloom again despite this savagery.

Their severed limbs lie tangled in the pasture

piled for rotting with yellowed garden waste,

but my avaricious eye cannot ignore

the wealth that lurks within the snarl, and so

I pry out branches wide as arms, limbs

thick as calves but heavier, and one stout

segment in the shape of two thighs and a crotch.

I am dazzled by this abundance,

by this promise, despite mayhem, of more fruit

from living trees and this gift of dense firewood.

They make me grow reckless and almost wish

for winter and its fires so that I can feed

the wood-stove apple limbs and crotches

even though I know it is unwise

to rush the seasons.

[from At Truro]


The Limits of Poetry

 

Poetry is not an instrument fit

To convey the anguish a father feels

For a daughter, most at peace with animals,

Who is guilt-ridden at having had

To will the death of an old sick cat

That, perhaps, had not been as loved

As retrospect requires, that now

Is entombed in the garden's earth, honored

With a pretty bush, and recollected

In the quieter house as a purring machine,

A small outboard motor,

A motor-mouth of love.

 

 

Printer's Error

 

The new club member directory arrived

and I am dismayed to find my name not listed—

not even an empty line to mark

where, during decades of belonging, it had resided.

My better sense instructs me not to see

an eerie portent in this printer’s error,

but the damage has been done and I grow jealous

of those yet in the array of published names—

figures on the shore as I am carried farther out—

and jealous of all whose names are not etched

in disappearing ink, such as the young,

descending the escalator, en route to work,

bodies glowing, hearts beating in rhythm,

unremarkable, but belonging to every club.


 

The Cinematographer

 

I do not know the plot as yet but know

this night is fit for a dramatic exit.

The streets are empty, the buildings ruined by fog,

spires appear and disappear, and down

in the harbor baffled ships bleat and complain.

I do not know the plot as yet but know

the camera should film me from behind as I

stride into the mists and disappear,

making my farewell to music of a viola

that blends with groping horns, all falling

silent in half a minute, leaving in the viewer's

sight only bare pavement, leaving

in the viewer's ear an echo of a Mahler song.

I do not know the plot as yet but know

the lens should scan the gloomy skies, and search

from empty gray horizon to gray horizon.

                                                     

[from A Piercing Happiness]

 

 

Lovely A.

 

I am authorized to tell you

that we cannot live forever, 

that our cells will not forget to die.

I am, like you, disconsolate.

I had intended a permanent existence

with time to relish every crystal truth

the computer, retrieving and retrieving,

ever sang, with time for every delta

on the coastline of Brazil, with time

at Svalbard where the ice is blue

and indolent seals flop unconcerned

until they push off, lazy, to the Pole.

But now I know that lovely A.

who once presided in a black silk sheath

lies disarranged—a loose necklace

of bone in the earth in Queens.

                                                     

[from A Piercing Happiness]



Easy Women

 

(From the N.Y. Times obituary of Clyde Tombaugh , the astronomer who located Pluto, whose father had  admonished him: "Clyde, make yourself useful and beware of easy women.")

 

He left Kansas for the night skies of Flagstaff

and began to interrogate ten million dots,

sifting them over and over and over again

until he caught a twitching residue of light—

the missing planet, once X, now Pluto—

making himself useful. As for easy women

surely there must have been one or two

gentle, dazzled, longing souls for whom

the young sky-searcher was a prince of star-light,

at least one who, had she been at his side

while he looked and looked and looked,

might have edged close to ward off the chill

of the night's vast loneliness and who

in a flush of urgency might have been easy,

though he, no doubt, would have stayed useful,

leaving her, who cared not a whit

which smudge harbored Pluto, to confront alone

the terrible enormity of the desert sky.

                                                     

[from At Truro]



Googling Lionel

 

Something the other day reminded me

of Lionel, my brilliant boyhood friend,

whose mind was agile, whose temper gentle,

who at an early age liked to wander

through mazes of mathematics and did so

surely, as though on well-lit highways.

It has been more than half a century since we spoke

but his image remains clear in my mind

and I think of him time and again—

cheerful, quick, unassuming, finding

humor in the awful—and since I often wondered

what he had made of his life and whether

he knew what I had made of mine,

I thought it time to reconnect, compare

the totals, reminisce. So I went to the great

vat of facts, typed his name, discovered

to no surprise that my friend had flowered,

taught admiring students at warp-speed,

published more than a hundred papers on topics

such as the asymptotic properties

of order statistics, and displayed kindness,

charm, grace, common sense, and wit.

What I hadn't bargained for, what numbed,

was the shock of finding that these affirmations of my friend

were in a stale obituary, a decade old,

that I had been harboring a ghost,

that I was lonelier than I had realized.

 

 

Connoisseurship

 

We are dropping like leaves from a November tree

And I have become a connoisseur or funerals.

 

Some were scripted by the guest of honor who

Cast the speakers and the ushers, selected the music,

The location, the presider, so that the ceremony

Was, in effect, a last work, subject

Of course to a few conventions —the invocation

Of some Deity or other, the preacher's assurance

That the deceased was never happier, was being borne

On the eagle’s wing, had a Very Important Personage

As a personal guide to the next strata of life.

 

Some arrangements were left entirely to survivors

Because the deceased had not anticipated

The event, or was too ill, or did not care.

Usually then the adult children are in charge.

They can be tall, impressive, in prime of life,

Fierce in their adulation, in their insistence

That the ceremony fit, but when the hooded

Casket is wheeled from the altar, down the aisle

They follow, crying like five-year olds.



Family Day at the Ballet

 

The lobby thrums with the scurryings of the very young.

Dressed for holiday they buzz in tilting circles

around and under their keepers. A taut voice

warns: "Sarah, you are starting to get lost."

Then all file in for Columbine and Harlequin,

for black-suited dancers with tricorner hats

mirrored by small dancers with tricorner hats.

And a golden line of dancing fat men

confronts itself in miniature—wave after wave

of replication as two generations

glissade across the ballet stage.

The viewers are in titters and the mothers proud,

but I, impelled by something half like justice,

want another tier to the array—old ones

who celebrate, who move as best they can,

shuffling, galumphing in slow arthritic circles

but dancing in black suits or gold, wearing

the indicated hats, starting to get lost.

[from A Piercing Happiness]

 

Father's Day

 

In the dream I had displayed

a singular defect of character—

I had neglected to bury my father

and the two black-suited men

glared at me as they deposited

their linen-covered burden at my feet.

 

I protested that all had been seen to

years before—rites, eulogies,

interment—but they would not listen

and turned their faces away leaving

in my direction only outstretched arms,

fingers pointing at the bundle below me.

 

I awoke, suddenly aware it was the anniversary

of my father's death, a date half forgotten

but noted by some secret timekeeper,

who struck chimes with the dream,

reminding me of unfinished business,

leaving me to grope for what it was.

[from A Piercing Happiness]

 

Decoration Day, 1938

 

(March 15, 2011. The last doughboy is buried.)

 

Q. What was the weather like?

 

It was end-of-school weather,

short-sleeved-shirt weather,

first-sunburn weather,

line-the-boulevard weather,

as we waited for the parade.

 

Q. Were there bands and marchers?

 

There were high school bands,

American Legion and National Guard bands,

bands with snarling silver trumpets

and thumping drums. There were

marchers from ROTCs, the Army Reserves,

the Boy Scouts, and the Camp-Fire Girls

wearing their beautiful new breasts.

 

Q. Was your world a happy place?

 

Adolph Hitler was in the daily papers,

Mussolini in the rotogravure,

Coughlin on the radio and in the neighborhood,

the Brown Shirts of Kuhn in Yorkville

and the Silver Shirts of Pelley

in middle America, all gushing hatred.

But we were young and played stick-ball,

punch-ball, roller-skate hockey,

basketball, and football on a rocky lot.

Our parents were frantic, but we were happy.

 

Q. What do you most clearly remember seeing?

 

One open car with three frail

figures waving feebly—

drummer boys from the Civil War

who had long outlived

their great commanders

who had been transformed into avenues—

Burnside, Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan.

A clump of elderly men

with boy-scout hats and khaki shirts

marching with banners that pleaded

"Remember the Maine."

But most of all a mass

of merry, youngish veterans

who rode on floats of cardboard boxcars

marked quarante hommes et huit chevaux

hero doughboys, confident victors

of the Great War to End All Wars.

They shouted lewdness at spectator girls.

 

Q. How did the parade end?

 

I can't recall. It must have petered out—

they must have run out of wars.

 

Q. What made you wish to write this poem?

 

I did not want those trusting doughboys

buoyant enders of all wars

to perceive others assemble on dim streets.

I did not want those innocents to disappear 

from memory without at least a footprint,

at least a chord that echoes for a minute

before the great silence.

[from A Piercing Happiness]


Homage to a Minor Deity

 

Fiona Ridgeross wore a crimson birthmark

The size of a luncheon plate across her face

But we, 15-year old boys

In her high school English class, otherwise

Intensely interested in feminine beauty or even

The sexual attractiveness of tables and chairs,

Did not notice the splotch.  She had revealed

The way a clump of words can resonate,

Rise and fall like ocean waves, hint

At scraps of haunting song, and what we desired

Most of all was for her to write in the margin

Of a page of our work, "How nice."


 

Anna Sergeyevna

 

(Turgenev, Fathers and Sons, Ch.25)

 

After they left, Anna Sergeyevna

Fell into the pit of depression

Though Heaven knows why.

She could not read, she could not sew,

Could not take pleasure in the shapes of things,

And could not play her proper parts.

She was haunted by a heavy sadness

As stars are hounded by dying specks

Of terrible density that warp orbits

And limn the diminution of our Sun.

What brought her back only Heaven knows—

A sunny day, a visitor perhaps,

A false anticipation of a love,

Some ordinary thing that made the stars less bleak.

Something healed or seemed to heal

And she resumed her proper daytime roles

Although at night she locked the blinds

Against the stars' implacable light.

 

 

Sleeping Quarters

 

During the Great Depression

I shared a bedroom with two cats

and a snoring great-grandmother.

The cats stretched themselves

out beside me like young horses,

their bodies rattling all night.

The east window framed

a grape arbor, alive

with dawn's chiming birds.

 

In third grade I would go to sleep

every day at arithmetic period

and had to go to the back

with the dumbbells.

After I got used to the snoring,

the dawn bird chorus,

the rattling cats, I moved

up front with the scholars.

 

Sixth grade, we went back

to our big house, leaving the cottage

where I'd had to share a room;

I got back my old nest

overlooking oak trees.

But I had to lock my arms tight

to my chest every night

so my wrists would not fall

below the bed springs

and be slashed by the mad man.

Silent as death he was—

let me sleep all night. Still,

there he was, under my bed,

razor ready.

 

 

Aunt Sally Got the Blues

 

After they left and the laughter died

she became lost in a dark corridor

that seemed endless. She did not know why.

Because they left? It was unlikely.

But she could not read or sew or cook

or play her customary role of being wise
or take pleasure in the shapes of things.

She was haunted by a massive invisible sadness

as stars are hounded by specks of terrible density

that warp their orbits. What brought her back

only heaven knows—a sunny day,

a visitor perhaps, a crossword puzzle

that almost solved itself, some ordinary thing

that made the skies less bleak. Something healed

or seemed to heal and she embraced her proper

daytime life, although at night, she locked

the blinds against the stars' unloving light.

[from A Piercing Happiness]

 

The Family V

 

Mr. Viridian, vendor of rugs,

who used to sit on a throne-like chair,

commanding his minions to unroll

Cleopatras from Tabriz, Heriz,

and Samarkand, was kind to me

and helped me savor crimson lac,

cobalt blue and aubergine.

But he grew too old to tend his store,

and they stashed him into a colorless room

where he would not breathe and did not keep.

 

Madam Viridian, who once was lithe

and used her breasts as scimitars

cutting to anguish each yearning wretch,

grew too wide for a full embrace,

grew too sere for a spurt of lust,

yet waddled serenely in the night

aflame with ardor, like a girl,

all cochineal and madder red,

and was kind to me, disclosing how

there is beauty in a love of love.

 

Uncle Viridian, poet and fraud,

who used to rock his porcelain words,

purporting to seek epiphanies

but only hunting the little space,

the consolation of warm thighs,

was nightly harassed by chilling dreams

of former loves forever young

who mocked how his passion had wilted away,

yet was kind to me, warning me

from aniline dyes and clinking rhymes.

 

ViVi Viridian, daughter of grace,

was kind to me when I was young,

and taught me how to nurse a drink,

taught me how to nurse a love,

taught me no and taught me yes.

She vanished with swift elegance

before she slowed or swelled or grayed

yet inhabits every color I perceive,

magenta, gold, or indigo,

and coaxes me in my half-light

to praise the family Viridian.

[from A Piercing Happiness]

 

Sixteen Cunningham Dancers

 

They assume stances Fokine never dreamt of

even in nightmares, and move to control the chaos

in which they spin They fall lightly like November leaves,

lie on their backs, arms held up, hands cocked

(a field of flowers broken by sleet). Before he died

Merce Cunningham decreed that his hand-picked

troupe of dancers would tour the world for two years

and then disband forever. But they are defiant

as they end their dance and sharply slap sixteen

pair of hands against sixteen pair of thighs,

and look as though

they will dance forever.

[from At Truro]

A Young Woman Writes from London

 

Life in general is not bad—London

bustles and hones my imagination.

But in November it is also raw and dark

and I live in a cramped room. When tired

I feel as though I am floating in a gray sea,

quite lost, belonging to no one

and to no place, with only tiers of fog

on the horizon.  I long for a clean,

airy house, bright with sunlight,

with high ceilings, banks of flowers, pictures

coloring the wall, decent furniture,

and a fine piano. And although

none of the males around are suitable

for the purpose, I feel in the mood

for a violent love affair.

                                                     

[from A Piercing Happiness]


 

Kamila Stosslova

 

Fame came late for Janacek

and later still, at sixty-three,

passion. Implausible, obdurate, futile

it fixed upon a bewildered young woman,

dark-eyed and less than half his age.

For the eleven years left of his life

he wrote love letters, sometimes

three a day, that flustered her.

Sometimes out of kindness she replied

and tried to infuse sanity as when

she warned that were he to know her

he would soon be bored. But it did not matter

and he grew more passionate as he aged

transforming her into a melody

for the first violin in his second

string quartet, lodging her dark eyes

onto the gypsy girl of a song-cycle,

setting echoes of her in roles of four operas,

the Sinfonietta, the Glagolitic Mass,

and more in the great starburst of fecundity

of his final decade.  And near the very end

of his life, after a chaste visit, with her son in attendance,

he wrote:  "And you are sitting beside me

and I am happy and at peace.

In such a way do the days pass for the angels."

                                                     

[from A Piercing Happiness]

 

 

Five Pacific Bucks

 

In the woods behind our country house

five young male deer saunter into view,

too old to be fawns, too young

to carry multi-tiered racks of antlers.

Each, though, has a sprout of horns,

some more scant than others, like the first

tentative moustaches of high school juniors.

They are at peace with one another, travel

as a herd, graze for a bit and then move on,

vanishing together as suddenly as they appeared.

I had not expected the sight of five

pacific bucks and almost regret the fact

that soon those antlers will blossom into

elaborate candelabra, that these deer will struggle

with each other for the ownership of does,

and that like school alumni returning for reunions,

each will paw the ground and shake his massive

rack, showing why he is more important.

[first appeared in A Piercing Happiness]

 

Their Plenitude

 

I'm glad my father isn't alone tonight

searching empty rooms, my mother gone;

he isn't well equipped for solo grief.

I'm thankful the others are with him in the house—

the aunts and uncles, the first and second cousins—

voices, cards, the smell of cake and coffee.

 

I never gave much thought to family ties.

A boy is not apt to be amazed

by eight bustling sets of aunts and uncles,

or by "The Girls," my mother's maiden cousins

who in summer houses fluffed my pillows,

saw me into bed, closed the door.

 

Of course by now they're dead, all of them,

the aunts, the uncles, my father decades ago,

but the gratitude that surges through the dream

is vivid, and whether I loved each in their time

I cherish all now—their plenitude

drifts down like rain upon my old-bone sleep.

[from A Piercing Happiness]

 

For Stanley

 

Italian! Italian! he sang out scornfully

to the opening of Mendelsohn's Fourth Symphony

whose brocades of sound he found too flashy.

And for Beethoven's Fifth he sang

Dih, dih, dih, daah, and asked

"So what ?" and he repeated

dih, dih, dih, daah, so what?

My boyhood friend Stanley was a severe

interlocutor of the music we listened to

on clunky records that scratched and hissed.

He was severe as only the young can be

when confronting the idols of their elders.

I was too uncertain and unknowing

to inject iconoclasms of my own,

but learned, almost a lifetime ago,

that music is a conversation.

Sometimes a composer is dull as mud,

his music routine and vacuous

as extended discussion of the weather.

Sometimes the music has a little wit or flavor

but ends up like a one-joke movie.

And every now and then, perhaps

in the middle of the night when four hours

of sleep has fooled the mind into wakefulness,

one encounters, in the dark, music

with something to say, poignant or astringent,

new in style or old, but fresh. And like

conversing with a brilliant partner time

goes quickly, one feels brilliant,

one wants the conversation never to end.

 

 

Farrell Declines to Sleep with Balanchine

 

(After lines by Louise Bogan)

 

Good night, good night, there is so much to love,

from the skitter of half-steps to the arced jeté,

I could not love it all, I could not love it enough.

 

You sing by movement, in tones full or slant,

new configurations that never pall.

Good night, good night.  There is so much to love

 

in every motion that you spin me to,

how could I risk those lucent angularities?

I could not. Love it all? I could not love it enough

 

and know the night's fierce murmurings

are less enduring than your supple tutelage.

Good night, good night, there is so much! To love

 

you as I do I must be purely motion,

in the stance and orbit you devise, else

I could not love it all. I could not love it. Enough

 

passion can be squandered in ordinary ways—

I'd dance in bed as any woman would.

Good night. Good night. There is so much to love

I could not love it all. I could not love it enough.

[from A Piercing Happiness]

 

On the Death of Merce Cunningham

 

A master of movement, Merce Cunningham decreed

that on this death his small, hand-picked troupe

would circle the earth in a final tour and then disband,

even though they still danced the way he taught them to—

taking turns skipping over one another,

forming perfect circles from broken rings,

floating to earth lightly like November leaves,

effortlessly rising up as though buoyed by water.

And yet he commanded the death of his own creation—

surely a kind of post-mortem suicide—

perhaps out of fear they would soon be corrupted,

perhaps out of jealousy of those who survived,

perhaps as a witty unexpected motion

that makes the commonplace startling and memorable.

 

 

A Piercing Happiness

 

On a soft September afternoon

in the garden of the museum

seven middle-aged docents,

transform themselves by wearing

resplendent silk ikat robes

contrived a century and a half ago

in Tashkent, Bukhara or Samarkand.

The cloth glitters with each movement

and flaunts flowers never seen

in the light of day, alien fruits,

five-fingered figures that could

be hands without palms or combs,

all splattered with clouds of color unlike

those of any sunrise or sunset that we know.

The shapes are strange but the colors pure—

shining golds, clear greens, deep blues,

swirling reds and darkest aubergines.

The coats were portable wealth to early owners

and to me, fortuitous bystander to this parade,

an unexpected source of piercing happiness.

[from A Piercing Happiness]


III.  A poem by Greg McBride:

 

Diminished

 

I stride into the mists and disappear.

            —Edwin M. Zimmerman (1924-2012)

 

It was a good thing

to tell his story

with our stories, 

each of us

one thin strand of who

and what he was,

and he for me

a keeper of the best

of who I am.

But keepers depart,

one by one,

a piece of me

tucked under an arm.

His story, my story,

that intersection

now closed.  Remembering

him, remembering me,

I drive away

under skeletal trees,

turn onto

Woodside Parkway,

take the detour,

and hope that when

I get home, someone

will know who I am.












                                    

 

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