My old, dear friend, soul buddy, partner in crime, best friend Laura Benua has died. She died in her sleep of a heart attack. She was about 50 years old. I have so many memories. She bought my children winter coats when I had no money. She drove beautifully. Laura was brilliant, funny, sweet, sad with a wicked temper and razor sense of humor. She was kind and hard boiled, a friend, a loving friend, when I was more alone than I could bear or imagine. This is a poem I wrote for her 1992. Some people might think it’s a little harsh, but I don’t think so. Laura, I will miss you always.
Bad Medicine for Laura
No one waits for this, it comes;
amidst the dumpsters and the parking lot
THIS STINKS sprayed across the blistered paint.
Power lines reflected on the half frozen puddles
cut the clouds to diamonds and ducks
step through the motor parts and grass
nibbling at mud. Every part of this world lives,
I think, and then you come stumbling from your house
looking guilty, as always, of something
someone says you did but you don’t know.
Past the gas station shut by blue laws
along the creek, not pausing to check
your face out in the water, not
looking at the shopping cart
or the plastic bag caught in a bush
jerking in the wind. Down the sidewalk
in your practiced stagger and long leather coat
you go looking for frozen waffles and a milkshake
to tide you over later when you stop
to light a cigarette, lips and skin like paper,
and lean your head against a telephone pole
to gently heave in the street.
First Morning in March for Laura
The birds fly in and I lift my head
to sun broken skies of iron and pearl
trees drawn in a darker lead
icicles hanging from wires uncurl
into old slush slumped in the gutter
the dropping water stutters.
Comes a cry overhead
in a bright dash of red
a cardinal whistling for his mate
where are you where are you
he lays out his bait
and says I am your lover true.
A blue jay hops down and sings
too late too late; a lone
mourning dove turning a ring
mutters too soon too soon
and the crow coughs in his craw
and asks how how?
The cardinal cries to the blue
crack of sky but I see you see you
as all that is left of her sweeps
through the woods and the sun
hides his face and weeps
winter returns and song is done.