Because I could not stop for death —
He kindly stopped for me —
from Emily Dickinson #712
Pandora man out of whose box jumped
Shining fish, a bronco buster in lime
Green jeans and pink boots, a black
Ballerina in pink tutu holding
A fiery hoop, all inside a tea cup.
Like Hieronymus Bosch, whom you claimed as your grandfather,
Your art . . . at times disturbing, always engaging,
Majestic, amusing, inspiring, mystifying, original,
Inclusive, self-referential. You knew too
Much for us to keep up. You excelled.
We could meet you in the open window
Of your studio, look at your tire swing,
Know we would join you for your joy
And a swing, hear about the Norway rats
You revered and painted, and a cave you
Knew as a neuron of energy. You read our cards,
Mine the 3 of clubs, forever confused
About decisions, showed us your early genius:
Paintings from Germany. You made us want to be alive.
You spoke in spiraling cadences to invite us
To the dance you never left, not your body,
Not your mind, ever. And if it is true
The place where a dancer stands is sacred,
The whole rummaged Island is blessed with your spirit.
Richard, prince, you gave your best to last . . . hope.
(Partial credit to David Park Curry, author of Cabinets of Curiosity: The Reverse Glass Paintings of Richard Lee.)