Michael Friedman, an Obie-winning composer-lyricist who held numerous leadership positions around New York theatre companies, has died at the age of 41…Friedman’s death on September 9 followed complications with HIV/AIDS.
~ Playbill, September 09, 2017
A nuthatch eats a grasshopper
on my driveway and I realize
this is a thing I’ve never seen
before. It’s the kind of thing
you don’t realize you’ve never seen
until you see it: the bug is on its back
and the bird’s twig-thin foot clamps
the belly down as it pecks away
in cool, quick, jabs. For a moment,
I hope—just a leaf? But dawn-light shows
a dying green leg slowly pedal
through tiny air. A translucent,
lands beside the wheel
of my son’s scooter
and I think of you, Michael,
who I barely knew but did,
some, in school, when we were young.
Senior year you put Auden’s
Musée Des Beaux Arts to music
which we tried to sing in choir,
our teenage jaws unlocked around
about and wrong in the first line.
Your song’s avant-garde sharps
put a tune to our brooding moods,
but what did I really know of suffering?
Like, I backed my nine-seater station wagon
with the sweet wood paneling
into your sister’s car and cried
(your parents were so kind).
Plus I was too tall, and David Cope
broke my heart, and all the other
getting-taller boys with wrists
I could circle with my fingers.
(You suffered: I will not guess.)
Space and depth; how does one
measure the distance between
where a person is and ends?
Take my son, for instance, how
the baby at my breast
just turned eight and likes eggs fried,
makes a solid corner kick, gels his hair
to “make it Elvis” I tell you
he will spend an hour under
the bathroom’s harsh fluorescence
just to sculpt that perfect swoosh.
You settled into such a beautiful man,
the Google Image search reveals.
It’s been over twenty years—
I mean isn’t there always somewhere
to have to get to—and so I scour
all the voices—Love and mercy—
mourning you in finite characters online—
Only Michael would know how to make sense of this—
any limits on language seeming just as well, as
No words repeats
on your sister’s timeline.
No words, There are no words,
for what we finally can see
we’ve never seen before,
until we witnesses the tragedy
in lights because light has to
shine on this disaster: someone amazing
disappearing into the music we’ll never hear.
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