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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Mockingbird's Song

It was after the flags had been lowered -
We lifted our heads to watch
this insistent warbler
marveling at his timely retinue;
a rigorous rendition
involving runs
and several turns in the air.
and then he was silent
against the voluminous sky
He dipped down as if to bow
and then,
displaying the smooth white feathers
beneath his wings,
He gently soared away
Leaving us in awe-struck
contemplation and proud.

We, friends, colleagues, protégés -
we all loved him after a manner.
For the moment, we would survey
his gifts to us - personal and everlasting.
Random encounters in the ivied corridors,
fortunate and precise moments
in the tome-packed cubicles -
very few places to sit,
precious little space to talk.
We would also consider his innumerable
contributions to the academy
and to the community of us all.
A certain numbness blunted
any thoughts of depth or profundity.
We were a flock in sorrow.
Our swollen eyes and streaked faces
spoke what our tongues could not broach.
Our aimless wander from arm to arm
to touch or embrace or kiss -
to share that sad and soulful knowing.
We each had lost an irreplaceable friend.

Each of us carried our own piece of his soul.
Each of us knew a part of his song.

He was a singer's singer
able to pull the lyrics from our muted hearts
and show us how our own self could sound.

He was a blues man
He had seen the Blues people
the gathering of poor people
the pain on their faces
the substance of their existence
and traveled into the heart of their pain
ascertaining and deconstructing their songs
singing them back in mellow tones
even the heartless could hear.

He was a soul man of unordinary coolness -
born on the Mason-Dixon line;
bred in the East, refined in the West,
he navigated the cultural plains
claiming his own territory
singing his song of songs.

He was a man of letters with a common man's sense
could listen to the illlest rhymes on the street
then run them down with a philosopher's beat

He was a man
who cared about the least of us
and we, we who learned his song
now sing our parts. We are the singers.
Across the plains; across the terrain,
across the diaspora, we sing his song - our song.


(A Song for the Singers' Singer/Remembering Clyde Woods (1957-2011)/Santa Barbara/2011)
Sojourner Kincaid Rolle
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