for David Berman, 1934–2017
You used to write about the snow.
How you would sit before a fire
relishing Bach. Distilled desire
attended you. Nowhere to go,
Nothing to do but stroke the cat.
Your comforts were well understood.
Your cat and you are gone for good.
There is small comfort now in that.
I’ve read your poems since you died.
I know the tale they had to tell.
You knew what waited all too well.
That snow is piling up outside.
You knew that soon enough you’d go.
But you rejoiced in Bach, the fire,
the cat. Your poems proclaim desire
attained. Your poems defy the snow.
—from Rattle #64, Summer 2019
Bruce Bennett: “David Berman, who had two poems appear in last winter’s issue of Rattle, was the first reader of my poetry for more than 55 years, and for most of that time I was the first reader of his. We met in Archibald MacLeish’s English S at Harvard in the fall of 1961, when I was a first-year graduate student in English and he was in his second year at Harvard Law School. He passed away in June 2017.” Note: For more on formalist poet David Berman, watch Rattlecast #3.