in memory of Jim Harrison, dead at age 78
Jim Harrison died last week at his home in Patagonia, Arizona. The obituaries said he was prolific, 30 books. He just kept at it, looking, remembering, never letting go of those certain ways into the natural world that got into his bones in childhood. He seemed to me to be a poet at heart. You can’t make a living or get your name out to the world writing poetry, so he wrote novels, short ones and a couple of long ones that were praised by critics. As a writer he was a tough guy in conversation with the spirits. I will miss his voice.
Death Again by Jim Harrison
Let’s not get romantic or dismal about death.
Indeed it’s our most unique act along with birth.
We must think of it as cooking breakfast,
it’s that ordinary. Break two eggs into a bowl
or break a bowl into two eggs. Slip into a coffin
after the fluids have been drained, or better yet,
slide into the fire. Of course it’s a little hard
to accept your last kiss, your last drink,
your last meal about which the condemned
can be quite particular as if there could be
a cheeseburger sent by God. A few lovers
sweep by the inner eye, but it’s mostly a placid
lake at dawn, mist rising, a solitary loon
call, and staring into the still, opaque water.
We’ll know as children again all that we are
destined to know, that the water is cold
and deep, and the sun penetrates only so far.
Songs of Unreason, Copper Canyon Press, 2011
Return by Jim Harrison
The sun’s warm against the slats of the granary,
a puddle of ice in the shadow of the steps;
my uncle’s hound
across the winter wheat,
fresh green cold green.
The windmill, long out of use, screeches
and twists in the wind.
Spring day, too loud for talk,
when bones tire of their flesh
and want something better.