for Sonja Margulies -- March 9, 1931 – April 27, 2013*
Sitting on my front porch
Watching small white butterflies
Caper in the valerian
I am thinking of you
Sitting on your new front porch
With your lifelong literary companion
The two of you gossiping
About the peccadilloes of the court poets
And the ridiculous new fashions in the capital
You light each other’s cigarettes
Fill each other’s cups first with strong tea
Then with spring wine
A white heron passing overhead
Turns your conversation
To the topic of artistic beauty
And the natural world
Can a poem ever be as exquisite
As a blade of grass
Or a spider’s web?
You agree and disagree for hours
(Do hours exist on your new front porch?)
For the pure pleasure of
Keeping each other company
A pleasure no longer available
To those of us who were your friends
Here in the ephemeral world
On the phone a few days before you died
Don’t forget me
And I assured you that I never will
And do the dead also remember?
Do you grieve?
What would you like us to know?
Perhaps you and Su Tung-P’o
Can exchange views on these matters
As pink and white petals of crabapple blossoms
Drift through evening
On moonlight’s pale tide
And you pour yourselves a little more
Of that heady new wine
* Sonja Margulies was a transmitted teacher in the Zen Buddhist lineage of Kobun Chino Otogawa., Roshi. From girlhood, she loved the poetry of Sung Dynasty poet Su Tung-P’o. Her book of poems, Local News, was published shortly before she died. It is available from Amazon.
Buff Whitman-Bradley is the author of four books of poetry – b. eagle, poet, The Honey Philosophies, Realpolitik: Poems of Protest, Outrage and Resistance, and When Compasses Grow Old, and a chapbook, Everything Wakes Up! His poems have appeared in many print and online journals. He is also co-editor, with Cynthia Whitman-Bradley and Sarah Lazare, of the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California.