Till today, I expected your life to emerge
from the rocks near where I last saw it sink,
to flow lucid into daylight once more.
Our last talk tottered on brittle laughter;
major intervals lowered half a step to minor notes.
Like a spelunker who leaves sun-lit surfaces
and drops into caverns of stalagmite groves,
you descended, pitching your bass clef by dark pools,
corpse-pale, composing some somber continuo
of stars bound in skies you couldn’t trust to hold them.
Persuaded by gentle fingers and palms, felt-covered
hammers strike steel strings, energy and air bond,
resonating with all the placid grace of your angry mind:
Those thoughtful songs, designed to escape thought,
performed in private or in lashing sheets of applause.
Your life’s clear, untroubled brook mists away
into mere invention; my ear missed some modulation,
some tone beyond my range while you meditated.
Tunneling despair, phosphorescent with mimetic joy,
you surfaced in a Sahara, lapped up by summer’s tongue.
– Randall Compton