Tuesday, May 16, 2017

At the Grave of Edward MacDowell






With evergreen fistfuls of leaves,
mountain laurel vaults the path.
The gloom flatters me and eases
the approach, diffusing shadows
that otherwise might darken
into doubts about his music,
which hardly anyone performs
although a few recordings persist.

This pine-upholstered avenue
hardly a hundred feet long
enters a stone-walled square
arched with a trellis. A boulder
bears a plaque, and the graves
of Marian and Edward lie flat
as graves most often do, gazing
up through layers of infinity.

Such an earthy location: stone,
lichen, pine and laurel, the woods
too dense to easily breach.
But beyond the trees the open
smile of the local country club
welcomes golfers whose cursing
dangle in the humid light
like panicles spilling pollen.

This reminds me that we remember
artists for the inflorescence
of their work, not for the shade
they cast on the people they love
and abuse in the name of art.
The flowers of MacDowell’s career
shudder in the breeze and shed
petals onto these lonely graves.     

I’ve come here for silence, not art.
I can’t play an instrument
and can’t hum any melody
written by Edward MacDowell—
although I have to honor him
for the vaulting of his laurel
and the plain little stone bearing
his first and my middle name.

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