Today’s prompt was to write a poem based on things I remember using specific details, and without worrying about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other. Well, since today is the retirement reception for a dear professor from my alma mater, I will share a poem I wrote to read at the reception tonight. This poem is rich in imagery and detail about Peter’s life and my memories of us together. I can’t think of a more fitting poem to share on this “things remembered” 29th day of NaPoWriMo.
as far as a rhapsody is concerned,
gershwin has it down pat
and peter is his master.
he cruises over the keys like
a winsome boy heading to the fishing pond–
at once owner and guest,
inviter and intruder.
he wrestles a tango out of the notes making love look like precision.
but these are not miraculous things
and the miracle is not the man,
merely a part of him.
a kilt clad, bagpipe blowing sicilian with scottish flare,
his tuscan ease belies a deeper sense of altruistic lifelines–
heart gaping open, family fuels his faithful friendship
and beware the fellow who maligns either one.
hereos of the underdog do not always begin the journey with such an intent,
but when the eyes of the heart are open to see truth, miracles happen.
and so peter’s discoveries,
by accident and sagacity, were not always sought by quest.
and as it is, life is full of small serendipities–those places where stranger and ally meet.
it was here in this place that we met.
he was pounding out gershwin on pianos across the east coast,
red hair flapping in the rhythm of the rhapsody, and i was a member of the band.
although the concerts are not what I remember most.
even years later, when i was the american in paris seated at a sidewalk cafe, eating warm goat cheese salad and sipping red wine,
the memories came back to me,
warm as a bahama breeze.
the memories were of touring–the bench seats in the back of the van crammed to capacity, all of us thrown together in that small space.
tour bred a kind of fierce and unexpected intimacy;
the conversations quickly shifted from superficial to raw and real.
after tour, the friendship between us continued.
together we commuted to school in a classic little blue vw bug.
we talked about life.
we argued politics.
we threw down poetry,
he constantly reminding me not to scorn or judge too quickly.
those poems, scrawled on yellow notepad paper in black ink
indelibly marked me for life.
his unconditional love and crazy sicilian joie de vivre,
also indelibly marked me for life;
we are here because in one way or another,
he has indelibly marked us all.
and so the sonata of his life plays on–same piece, new movement.
it is my hope that this new movement resounds with beauty and grace and miracles;
and that peter continues to inspire hope and love in us all.
Peter with his wife, Kathy