Sunday, January 25, 2009

R.I.P. Rudi

I wrote this poem in memory of Rudi Stern in 2006... see earlier posts below about Rudi...
....Rude September
This afternoon, sunny
And warm for September
I chopped up the climbing rose
It was dead
Gone brown down to the root
It had not appreciated
Being uprooted and transplanted
When we tore out the old terrace
From in front of the house
Because of its considerable size
It took me quite a while
Snipping and cutting brittle branches
Heavy leather gloves
To protect me from the thorns
Stacking the dead stems
Like bones in a catacomb
All that while
Rudi I thought of you
I suppose all those months
The rose was slowly dying
The green giving way to brown
Something of the same sort
Was happening to you
As the cancer brought you down
But the last letter I had from you
Near a year ago
Was upbeat
I thought you’d bought yourself some time
I know when you came back to Spain
Last fall, you were feeling sort of hollow
But that may be
Because they took your right lung
In surgery
Although I think it was also partly due
To flight from your beloved New York
Your Jersey City loft was history
With all the wondrous junk it held
Your paintings your projects by the score
The fabulous lion masks and rooster signs
From Haiti that hung by the door
Your bushels of books
Piles of the New York Times
The wonderful neon clocks
Brushes soaking in turpentine
I guess at the end of New York
The old connections just weren’t working
Many projects started but aborted
The visions of two towers falling
And people jumping, raining down
As you watched with your dog
While walking by the river
May have left you haunted
I still have the postcard
Where you invited us to your party
Which showed the view from your roof
Two days before the world changed
So you came back to Europe
Not long after
Settled in Italy in a farmhouse
With no heat
Looking for the warmth
Of a final fling in a human relation
I remember the glowing watercolors
Of the Piedmont hills
I know you found what you were looking for
I have a photo of you standing by the door
And then I saw you no more
I had no news for many months
My last message unanswered
And like a fool I waited
As life at work and family filled my mind
Thinking you were busy changing diapers
And living the joy of watching
Your baby girl learn to talk and walk
And though she will not remember you
In sights and sounds
Which too quickly fade
She will bear your blood
And genes for all her days
I cut up the rose
Stacked the branches in a bag
To throw them away
But saved a twisted piece of root
And one piece with thorns
And all the while Rudi
I thought of you
And wondered where
Your body lies
Cursing the fate who decided
That we should not say goodbye

No comments: