In that mountain air,
did you know – perhaps you did –
the other day, I lipped
a tune at least as sweet
as any yet we’ve managed
to summon from Egil’s cabin
– this the imaginative
convenience – on Lake Mind.
Oysters, finer than words
and finer than a Celtic fiddle
could ever phrase the thing.
Fish there, and the dolphins who
pursue them, freer than a rosin-
rich sweep across that neck
you made. Lacking such freedom,
I took out a hum in six-eight,
walking it in, though Melbourne
was an oven, ablaze with lazy
Latesummer, stepping it hard:
left-two right-four left-six
right-two left-four right-six —
the rhythm alone bringing
each thought home together
and home at long last.
The rest of that day, an out-
of-tune cheapie, a plastic descant,
was away from my side not once,
but rang each change of seat,
of posture, of concentration.
Between times, your trouvere
simply hummed through his day-
job, surfing the directions of others.
And so, old friend, fellow-
at-heart, this tune it seemed
full of your hard-won grace,
of chords you’ve touched and the sweep
of your timbers, of lakes you’ve
swum and of paths your boots
have thumped. It is, old friend,
it is surely named for you.
Its clue – praise be – is one that’s
lived on since much less listened-
to days, a form, a phrase,
a verse that stayed afloat
when eyes were shunning water.
Now we’re ready to learn,
it relates a thesis of pain
and poetry: On the Soul.
Like most of them, as the world
grows old, it got forgotten,
then recalled with swelling pride,
then lost again, and found
like any true friend – tune-
companion – not usually available
at call – though often so –
but coming and going at whiles.
I know it’s aright out there, though
fog hugs the swell now – a fjord-
life friend. It’s there for all
the jiggers and reelers to row
themselves out to, for crooners
superficially to allude to,
and for old-time students of ways
diverse to listen to. True!