a lament for Raymond Souster
One week before the Day of the Dead
the Japanese maple in my backyard
is almost too perfect, every leaf
incandescent enough to ignite the night
yet all remain unfallen. You, true master
of the backyard poem, will never see
this tree, nor my wisteria
blown yellow by the winds off Lake Huron.
Nor will we again discuss Robert Lowell
or Kenneth Patchen under your mulberry
during the dog days of a Toronto summer.
May that day never come when we
finally say goodbye, you wrote recently.
But that day did come and go a week ago.
In your last backyard poem you described
leaf-stripped trees facing the bitterness
of winter; today I see my black walnut
retains not one leaf as afternoon
welcomes late October’s chill.
From “Under the Mulberry Tree”