Ode to a Dean

by David Harmer

Some lines of the exuberant and unabashed all-American poet, the Honorable Walt Whitman, lamenting the unfortunate demise of Ricardo Cracrofto, his beloved friend, the shy and retiring poet. They were recently discovered by David Harmer, who found them scribbled on the back of a remnant of a brown paper sack found in an advanced state of decomposition near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

I sing Cracrofto, Cracrofto electric, ecstatic,
For he is a part of me, and I am a part of him
I am all of him, each atom of him,
each thought and memory of him.

I am his moldering corpse. I am the coffin which hugs him,
hugs his vibrant, vital body.
I am in love with his headstone, I feel it,
It is for my hands forever.

See the heaves of grass in this cemetery,
the little mounds marking the freshly planted bodies.
I will undress and sing, I will let my feet
massage the grass that sinks its roots into Ricardo,
I will dance here with the unseen,
I will grasp the decaying body and kiss it stout as a horse.

I and this mystery Death, here we stand! But He is no mystery to me.
Death will not surprise me. I will surprise Him,
Yes! My eyes jump and draw Him near.
Undrape, Death! You are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded, no,
I see through the black shroud,
And I am all around, and acquisitive and tireless.
I embrace Death,
Absorbing Him and all else and all others.
The Rhode Islander and the Floridian and the Lesotho-Botswanian
eat and refresh, and meet Death placidly.
I know them, and they become me, they flow into me,
Death flows into me and I consume Him, my comrade.

Democratic Death! O Equalizer! O Liberator!
At home on Kanadian shores and Southern soil, in every caste and hue!
What is Death anyhow? Vivas to Death!
Vivas to those who have died!
Smile, O cool home, O pleasant earth, O unlimited grave!
I smile and sing!
I am the poet of life, and I do not decline to be the poet of Death also.