Through the plane window is the most gorgeous dawn I have ever seen. The mountainous land below surges and heaves, shrouded in mist, glowing with a thousand million pale colors of light. The eastern edge of the horizon is a gleaming knife. A glorious and silent choreographed battle of gold and fuchsia, pulse and vibration, grows brighter and brighter, huge and symphonic below me. It seems like a beneficent message straight to my soul.
When I was younger I felt like this all the time. Now it takes the most beautiful vista of my experience to make me trust the open arms of the world. Looking out at all that glory is bittersweet, because I hadn’t remembered to miss this feeling. I’d just gone on and bought groceries and paid bills and wiped the same sticky countertop an uncountable number of times, though not nearly as many times as it needed it. Today the great and gracious Earth is telling me something I need to hear.
Our friend David Blair died a couple of weeks ago. His Detroit team won a National Poetry Slam in 2002. That year I was on one of the teams that was absolutely decimated by Detroit in Semifinals. Blair anchored their team (that means he was the last of their four poets in the bout) with “Behind the Garage.” This poem, a tribute to and remembrance of his father, begins and ends with Blair singing an Italian libretto. Unstoppable. I don’t even like to use the word “singing” to describe what was happening. “Voice soaring” is more like it.
Blair was uniquely able to capture the texture of longing and remembrance. He was generous with his friendship and his time. We brought him to our slam with some grant money a couple of years ago. In his workshop, he had us make a list of words that described the most beautiful thing we could think of, and a list for the most ugly. We had to switch the lists, and write a poem for the ugly with our beautiful words.
David Blair’s death was glorious and silent. Alone in his hotel room, the thousand million pale colors of heat stroke surged and heaved through his blood, a choreographed battle. Glowing headaches followed the curve of golden knives. Hemorrhage dawned fuchsia. The gleaming horizon pulled him slowly down into a gorgeous shroud. His pulse and vibration are a stilled symphony. His absence is a mountainous land, a bright and beneficent message, the eastern edge of all that I have ever seen.