Fats and Little Richard would come to our rescue,
but before they did I ached for Patti Page,
“The Singin’ Rage,” as the radio deejays dubbed her.
I remember loving “How Much Is that Doggie in the Window?”
And “Mockingbird Hill”– maybe corny, yet it robbed my breath.
In her much older age, that star somehow fell in New Hampshire,
just across the river from where we live.
I suspect that six out of ten of my local friends–
and all of them younger, say, than sixty–five–
would give me blank looks if I were to mention her name,
same looks that Audrey Wurdemann– Pulitzer poet
for her volume, Bright Ambush, 1935 –
would produce if anybody referred to her now.
Tatters and shards. “Nothing beside remains,”
as Shelley said of his fallen king’s condition.
Like a dear friend’s death, this all might seem depressing.
Well, go that way if you want to. As for me,
my age-old unconcern for reputation
frees me this morning to change a grandson’s diaper,
marked by the bright effluvium of his life,
and improbably to imagine a hymn to that life.
Meanwhile, I notice– with that age-old catch in my breath
and that rage to sing about it to all who will listen–
the beauty of long winter shadows on snow outside.