To Philomene, my last letter to you from this cold earth

By Fred Dewey

To live one’s life according to the Muse, that so-jealous creature, strictly, by one’s passions, in utter commitment to one’s vows, of poverty, of love, of poetry, to suffer for these vows, to reject materialism and even ambition, to be single-minded and devout to the point of great tempestuous reversals...

You were strong, a life force, a cosmos, a universe, you energized every living thing you touched, every place you went, to the point even of your own exhaustion. You were never exhausted.

You gave everything, sought everything deep, you denied things to yourself and yet you lived for all of us, for all in your life, you lived a dozen lives for each of us, you lived and endured a thousand lives.

You alone had the energy, the will, the love to do this, the force of imagination, the incredible power of one human imagination.

In the last weeks and months, you were happy, I think. We read Aeschylus together, passionately, you went swimming in the ocean for the first time in 18 years, we watched shooting stars on Saddle Peak Ridge, only four days before you left, to join them in the firmament.

Not so long ago, we spent eleven hours circling around, going at it, working an idea again and again: is the secret that poetry mimics essence? We agreed it is not the same as essence, but that it approaches it, seeks it, yearns for it, tries again and again to capture it.

Philomene, the one thing we forgot that night was the poet. You were committed to poetry even at the expense of the poet, at the expense of yourself. You were our example, our shining star, our crucible, our life, you were our essence.

This is all, finally anyone can do on earth, it is even a duty: to be who you are regardless of the cost. You reminded us why this is so, and why what matters is between us, and why one life alone matters so terribly much.

You were not merely a light, you were the burning, the burning, and light comes from this, the burning that creates warmth and new life in a cruel and cold and selfish world. You felt that cruelty more than almost any of us, that brutality that America reserves for those who love, who dare to live life on their own terms. You lived your life on your own terms, and you paid the price. Now we too must pay the price.

And you returned to us, returned to life, to feel, to know--to poetry, to love. You will remain here, burning, burning, snatched for one brief glorious moment to live among us, to burn hot in the house of poetry, hot in the house of our lives, my love, my friend, my companion, my fighter.

Posted: Sat - September 1, 2007 at 01:54 PM