Seeing the coming storm, tired of the way,
You drew to sleep. Rest quiet, Ries, who
Painted, talked, was loved by friends who
Fled the north and cannot bury you.
Blood in a lung, the new admitted guest
Sat in your room till we had gone, to
Swell his nightmare sac. An easy tender
Host, you gave yourself in gently
Angled prow suspended on an opalescent
Calm, painted when we were young
How still it was. The red sun sank
Behind the spire, fired the canal and
Died. We drank to our next meeting,
Raised a glass against your subtle
Patient guest and ours. The sun’s shaft
Struck the prow, shattered the summer
Waterscape one fiery time and charged a
Common autumn day with fear. You knew.
We set our faces light with expectation
(Time on our side, young in the south)
On a meeting: “Seven years? Of course
We’ll make it.”
Dear failed and gifted friend, the wind
Has blown us all to the earth’s end never
To cross that sea again.
But on the clear cerulean wave your
Young and steadfast prow will rock
Itself asleep for ever.
© Fay Zwicky