By Judith Newton
In the end,
you would no longer hear your music—
you, whose rooms had been alive with it,
whose life was Late Quartet.
I think of you and I remember Beethoven
in a Berkeley house,
the light from quiet windows
heightening the patina of well used surfaces,
ferns, like green swords,
piercing the heart of the afternoon,
and, through the swelling turbulence of the strings—
the counterpoint of intellect
serenely resonant at its labors.
To forgo your music was, for you, the worst farewell,
to live in silence, a dark prelude to what you knew would come.
I think of you in the end—a holy man despite yourself—
bearing your body’s discord with deliberate grace,
and with a tremolo of acquiescence
closing off the sweet vibratos of this world.
I think of you, in this after moment,
when the tone arm lifts, the record ends,
and Late Quartet
still dilates the impassioned air.
(“Last Quartet” appears here today with permission from the poet.)
Judith Newton lives in Kensington, CA. She is the author of several books of nonfiction and is completing a memoir: The Joys of Cooking: A Love Story. She is a food columnist for the iPinion Syndicate, and is completing a book of poetry entitled Poetry for the Immune Deficient.
Editor’s Note: Judith Newton’s poems go straight to the heart of what it is to deal with with loss as the one left behind. I was just talking about this with a dear friend of mine who suffered the loss of his partner, and, like Judith Newton, wrote his way through his struggle. I dedicate today’s post to my friend, who knows what it is to endure loss, and who is in tune with the music inherent in life and death.