Perihelion: An Online Journal of Poetry and Mayhem
The Phoenix Issue, No. 16, Winter 2008


Leaving Beckett Point, Port Townsend

for Haas 1965 - 2007

Driving Cape Road in the pickup,
we saw a red tailed hawk swoop low
in front of the windshield—stunning
four-foot wing span, a raptor on the hunt.
Impaled on its razor talons,  
a grey squirrel hanging in the air.
I wondered how the speeding world
looked to it in those seconds. Closed my eyes
and saw your cabin again, a high November
tide lapping the dock,
and out there in the straits—
the swirling Juan de Fuca, you said,
the currents of two countries merging.
And beyond, Protection Island—
the falcon and the loon nesting
somewhere in the high, sandy bluffs.
The first time there,  I wanted to see all
through your eyes.  So I stood a long time,  
the harsh Canada wind blowing—.  
Saw the deserted cottages
along the coast, the fishermen gone
the season over.   Remembered
your phone calls to me across the Pacific—
holed up all winter, you said, loving
and hating the isolation, writing like mad
against a deadline.  Making plans  for
Beirut in spring, your other home.
No one dreamed then
it would keep you there always.
Standing in the shining grey,
sea and sky merging,
I heard the voice again—
Be the crystal cup that shattered even as it rang.
Oh, friend, poet, brother—
in these hours before your birthday,
as I drive this lovely road, the cruel beauty of
the natural world around me spinning
in these seconds I am spending, I hear
the clearest note of your heart song still.
Let the burned-red leaves of
summer fly. Let winter,
let joy, even the angels in rags
let come—in the fiery last seconds of night.