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.)