Elegy for Sean
Even now I see how he tried mightily to speak to us, the words shaped on his
lips, puffed hands shaking to be untied. But no air at his command left us incommunicado.
Did he try to say, “Goodbye”? I wonder.
Ian asked, “Papa, are you scared?”
“No!” he shook his head, wanting instead to bellow.
The nurse explained how he needed to heal, learn to speak again, using a button,
“Arg,” he wanted to roar, but he had no power to command the air.
“He’s a poet.” I said, looking away.
He glared at the nurse pumping stuff into his I.V., no gentle glance. Then in
revolt he turned his head and closed his blue, blue eyes.
“See you later. Get some rest,” we said and left.
But he died.
He had had a voice once, when he was still Edward (before he reinvented himself)
a soprano that the priests at Don Bosco fought over. Then he had that tenor that
could melt and bend the air. He sang, “I Got Me Flowers.” He intoned
Narratives of New Netherland
He had had a way of being there. He told his guests, “Here’s cantaloupe,” as
he cut and gutted the fruit over the garbage pail, dumping seeds and rind before
their eyes, eating his slice with his fingers, juice running down his chin. Then
he had the elegance to say, “Have some.”
He had had a mind that roamed far and wee
like the goat-footed balloon
man of e.e., that understood the geology of mountains and the chemistry of
rivers, the pull of Mars and the trembling of kings, that could soar above
and float in a dream.
* * *
For my true account
I lay down at ease
The comfort of spine
My fingers trace
the lace of skin
About my throat
I have no pale confession
Aye, for this self killing
The laying down
The ease of neck
I be graced, dear God
In no swart room—
To be witness
Let each corpse bend knee
I cannot calm
This slipping out or in—
The way my eyes are full of air,
And how my tongue is left to bleed
With all my throat decay.
(from the collection of poems called Experimental History: Lyrics For a Masque on the Murder of Charles
I of England by Sean Farragher)
He had a sensibility (his God) that adored the unlikely rebellion of the
crocus, that had a love affair with color and line, that gloried in the seduction
pens and inks until they oozed with relief and often eloquence. Such creations!
* * *
Sometime in my country
at the outward part of river
Wild flowers so fragrant
I stand still not knowing
what I am meeting; so many
and rich the birds I can
scarcely go through them
for their whistling
Light can hardly be discerned
where they fly
the fox chases them like fowl
Their notes salute the ears
of travelers with harmonious
discord, and in every pond
and brook, green silken frogs
warble their untun’t tunes
to hear a part in this music
Strawberries dye the wood red.
Instantly, I arm myself with wife
and rush violently into them
never leaving till I have disrobed
them of their color, turning them
into an old habit.
(First Discovery & General Description of That Part of the Country
Called By Our Countrymen, New Netherland by Sean Farragher)
Wild Child: Spring
Spring is the rebellion of the crocus
Wrestling with the ground.
The forsythia and the child sweat
And the earth bangs a drum
Then, the rain comes,
And we watch the white below the green,
And the brown crust,
The black below the sea
* * *
He had had a need, such a need to consume everything, to know everything,
to imagine anything. He was full of himself, overflowing, out there,
flowing, becoming a cloud, crying in dismay over politics and war, rewriting
I wish. I wish
It were 1965 again.
The rainy season
Not far off
On the 23rd page
Of the Times.
and War by Sean Farragher)
He had had a sadness,
soft as a queen bee for those he’d used up—mothers,
lovers, sons and daughters, playmates, far flung friends.
loved us like he loved his butter, saying grace when it was too late, then calling:
“Wait, wait! Didn’t I really see you?” and “Doesn’t
that just blow your mind?”
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