Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Elegy for Richard Hugo

Elegy for Richard Hugo

(1923-1982)

You said to wait ten years before
trying to write an elegy about someone
who just died. I waited more than three times
that. No doubt it's not enough.

So, something here about a lake's face
changing--ripple, riffle, wrinkle; you
said never use semicolons. (I’m kidding
a kidder.) "Be glad to fish
with you sometime," you wrote in

in the one letter to me, "but I warn you,
I'm strictly a bait fisherman.” If that
were on Twitter now, I'd favorite (a verb, sir)
it and tweet back, No worries. You
haven't missed much. Let's say

a man sits on a rock. He's connected
to a lake, call it Saw Lake, by a fishing
line. He's not really waiting for anything.
He’s drinking beer. A hit, a strike, would be fine,
a rousing thing. Just over the ridge
doesn't lie a town. That's why

nobody's heard of it. I will say
women and men who work at the factory
there return from a women's softball
game, someone won, who cares. Now
everybody will wash their hair, their bodies,
put on clean jeans, heave on the nice
boots, and go out and dance and drink
and kiss and hug and fight. The

man on the rock has seen the rusted
iron roofs of just that town. He
wonders if he should call them rooves.
The lake tugs him away from words

but not for long. "There you go," he says.


Hans Ostrom copyright 2016
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