Meryl Natchez

Poem for Paul

Lately, crows have been invading poems,
those hoi polloi birds, irascible and unashamed.
An eye for the mystic ordinary, Paul
knew the difference between crow
and raven—Most poem crows are ravens,
he might tell you, pointing out their size,
their heavy bill, their solitary strut.  

While others scanned for kestrel
or for heron, Paul wondered about gulls, 
their range and variations, their coziness
with all things human and the limitless,
inhuman sea. An underrated bird,
he might say.  

For years in one small bedroom 
where the sea could just be heard, 
Paul held ongoing court for grownup
children, his beery Buddha’s smile 
traveling with them: Moscow, Moose Jaw, Lhasa, 
back with an unusual rock or plastic wind-up
toy for Paul to slowly take in hand, 
consider, and comment on.
His comment the reward
for the journey.  

He wrote his poems on scraps
dropped in a coffee can
or sent on a card to a friend,
no copy kept, or lost
in the drifts layered
around his bed 
like Pigpen’s cloud of dust.
One of the rare ones
who knew that the writing
was everything.
What happens after 
doesn’t matter.