In the Summer of Moths
For Alice Woolf (June 18, 1916 - June 3, 1997)
Yours were the hands, purple and knotted
striking the keys to make music from memory.
Yours was the voice weaving memory and myth,
croaking the stories we craned our ears to hear,
ready to laugh with you, Alice.
Eighty years of life you aimed to conquer
Frontier girl, long-jumper, rule-breaker,
horse-breaker, bone-breaker --
Fast as a hummingbird,
silvery as your weight of turquoise jewelry
until the weight of pain would slow you down,
you never missed a trick, Alice.
Nearly Christmas eve you missed a step,
body and soul plunged down the dark stairwell,
breaking almost every bone but not your spirit, Alice.
Through the narrow rabbithole emerging,
pinned like an insect to the hospital bed --
Stubborn butterfly, you willed your promised
freedom from the white cocoon.
Crucified woman, cast halo crown-of-thorns
freed a hand to tear the tubes from your
own throat while your guardians slept
You would breathe, and you would arise.
Trusted healing hands would hold back death
till it be merciful, and swift.
No thunderclaps or lightning,
on an ordinary day
you stopped the world.
Did you dream of riding bareback
through the aspen, racing to
the ridgetop of the ranch,
ageless matriarch of wonderland?
Sky-wide your heart, yet could not
hold you longer, June-Bug Alice,
this summer of moths,
you were drawn to the light.
-- Linda Weissinger Lupowitz
(Alice B. Woolf, 80, passed away on June 3, 1997.
She was a teacher, artist, musician and rancher who
lived in the Cuba, New Mexico area for 45 years.)