The entirety of the literary community and fans of his work are all grieving the loss of Mark Strand this week. The faulty area at school was abuzz with memories and stories of the iconic poet. Professor Deborah DeNicola, my colleague at Broward College, celebrates Strand in a poem she had published in Nimrod a few years ago.
Loving Mark Strand
It’s as if he knows how close he’s always been to Spirit.
As if your hand might pass through the numen of his voice
and a little shadow shiver on the auditorium wall.
If you asked I bet he’d glance away with a half smile and husky
whisper . . . Everything ages . . . We get old . . . Everyone disappears . . .
and this with a hissing sigh: . . . Love fades . . . But his eyes
would twinkle like wild dice and you’d know underneath
that haunting still lives a romantic, why else would he
strike us so humble, so droll? One could do worse
than scribble ethereal sighs while years slip by
as pages lifted by wind. Maybe he sees something
we can’t imagine beyond this earthly timeline. Always
his quavery moans purr like a couple of mongrels,
wounded but playful. Oh Strand! Oh handsome Strand!
Your towering gaze taught us tricks that held out mystery,
ships made of words, lifelines we almost grasp
as we read poems built of vowels, poems mocking
themselves, poems so pleased to be poems, bemused
at the range of their pain, consumed with their own toiling
well into twilight— elusive, mewing poems whose feet
never touch ground. And here in the pin-drop quiet,
ten deep in the standing-room-only of his vapory breath,
we’re almost splay-legged in rapture while there
at the podium, he’s merely mouthing the syllables
of light and air and glass in the perfectly stitched font
of The New Yorker. We could sail the rictus of cryptic
grin, its crescent aisle, while we cling to his piper’s cape
and flow from the building up a Bread Loaf embankment
where wind blows color out of the gloaming and the smoky
poems dissolve, deliquescent as rain beclouding
the synchronous rise of birds. And Strand,
with the bittersweet smile, glad to have touched our lives,
never giving a hoot who mimicked him . . . he just keeps moving,
holy over the fields, an Aquarian Orpheus, one with his head
intact, toes dangling over the edge of our good green planet
into the mythic skies of poetry history, taking his place beside
Homer, Virgil . . . Demosthenes’ stones under his tongue,
back to the first bicameral tribe, the blue mother cave where
he first dreamed in the silence the tender language of the born.
-Deborah DeNicola, published in Nimrod