You will never exist in memory, in yesterdays.
You always will be here today
talking with me in the halls.
Telling me a story about an ethnic writer
whose work we both admire.
I see you at your desk, head bent
over a student’s paper,
the white page covered in your
tight penciled script.
I hear your words at department
meetings, speaking truth to power,
(to use a cliché), getting to the heart
of a debate, piercing through pleasantries.
And I see us commiserating
about bureaucratic rules and regs
or the pernicious effects of social media
as we devour broiled lemon chicken
at the College Diner (the best you said).
And I still taste the garlicky guac
you brought to every department party.
The chef in you relishing
homegrown and farm to table food.
I remember poetry evenings.
One time at Bard we listened to Joyce Carol
Oates’s cat poems that she recited
in a mincing voice.
We squashed our laughter.
So foolish you and I agreed.
Your keen sense of beauty,
your love of the perfect conceit
outraged at her slapdash, sloppy verse.
At home I open a folder of my old poems
and there it is. There you are counseling me.
Your penciled recasting of my words
so much better, perfected in a way
I couldn’t imagine.
Your brilliance still streaks
across my world like a wayward
comet, or star showers, unexpected,
lighting up a dark, night sky
You will never be a ghost,
a revenant from another world.
You will always be fully here.
In words, in thoughts, in deeds.