A Circle Completes

In early December of 2000, Miriam died unexpectedly and tragically. Miriam had epilepsy and asphyxiated in her sleep due to a seizure. Miriam’s death affected me greatly, but more importantly, her life affected me greatly. She was a true love, a great and magnanimous friend, and a light in the life of everyone who knew her. I am very grateful for all of the lessons she taught me—the most important was: “To have a friend you must be a friend.”

Rest in peace, my dearest.

Saturday night at the Midwinter Poetry Night event in New Iberia, Mrs. Gara, Miriam’s mother, gave me a copy of the Spring 1989 issue of The Southwestern Review, which is the literary journal of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the university from which I received my B.A in English. This issue contains the very first poems of mine that were ever published, “The Nightmare” and “Raven.” Mrs. Gara also gave me a framed poem of her own making which was written after we shared a conversation about poetry. Mrs. Gara felt compelled and inspired to read her own poem at the Open Mic at the event. She was received enthusiastically and it made me very happy.

A circle completes.

For many years, the yearning was there for me to write but I was not disciplined or attuned to the voice as deeply as I am now. There is a story there. There is a story there. Much of my creative writing was in the form of letters that I would send to friends. Miriam was the person I wrote to most frequently. I do not have these letters. I wish I did. Miriam teased me that she had filed these letters away and would bring them out to blackmail me or show my children. It was a joke, really, but knowing Miriam she would have done so for a laugh. Miriam always pushed me to write creatively and to develop as a writer. She was a beacon for me in life, and continues to light my path since her passing.

Miriam was a bridesmaid at my wedding in 1989. The next day she moved to New Orleans. She loved the city. She lived there until her death. Miriam was a friend who knew my husband and me very well. She knew my husband before I did and they carried on like great friends throughout our time together. Dean and I spent so many wonderful weekends at her apartment in the French Quarter. She made the city her own and loved to welcome friends to her apartment so that they could enjoy the city as well.

Good times. Good times.

I am very grateful that Miriam got to know my daughter. Miriam loved children but didn’t want her own. She loved her nieces and nephews and her friends’ children. She treated my girl like a niece and friend of her own. My girl loved her, although she does not have very many memories now, because she was so young when Miriam died.

Miriam loved the arts and had a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration. At the time of her death, she was working for the New Orleans Arts Council and living as she dreamed. She was one of the most caring, open, determined, self-reliant, fun and funny friends I ever had. She always encouraged my writing and I am indebted to her for believing in me and my talent. I know she is with me. I know she is with me. Thank you, Miriam, for everything.

The Nightmare

Sun burns
its last crimson
flash, over broken
angles of this room.
Spits patterns
through wounded curtains,
spells my name
in a language
I cannot speak.

How can I push back
this rush of dream,
growing like grasses
under water?
Or let linger
the moving shadow
of rib-bone
and brown skull
that fills this
hollow space?

Raven

A cry crackles
from the raven’s
hook of mouth.
Its raspy babble falls
from hollow boughs
dry as forgotten bone.

Hooked nail, feather and flesh.

Ravens pose
in rusty leaves, crisp
strips of buckling leather,
and thicken the sky
with black, blue rhythms
of glossed wing.

First published in The Southwestern Review, Spring 1989

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