Timothy Murphy figures he writes only a handful of “major poems” each year, those out of the three hundred pages he’s been producing each of the last three years. To reach that status, it has to be an ode, it has to really get up and run. Here is Seventh Anniversary from his forthcoming book Hiking All Night. He particularly admires it because the last verse paragraph is so in-your-face Catholic. Scroll to the bottom to hear Murphy recite it.
A month from now it will be seven years
since Alan “shuffled off this mortal coil,”
no more translations, no more frenzied toil,
a terminus to cancer and its fears.
Still here on earth, I’m toiling every day.
After a long break I turned sixty-five,
took up my pen, proof I am still alive,
and love, my head has shed all trace of grey.
Lonely of course, deprived of the true friend
the Holy Spirit destined for my lips.
Thinner and bonier grow my slim hips,
and Daily Mass equips me for my end,
for our reunion where mortality
is a mere foothill from infinity.
After four decades of our brotherhood
I have my prayer,
deep dreams in which I climb my winding stair,
days bad and good,
but I plod on, seven years since you died.
I’m faring well,
having long since cast off my grieving shell
each day I’ve tried
to live as you would wish, a long, swift life
written in stars
and the slow, solar circuitry of Mars,
honing my knife
to slash off the unworthy from my soul.
Clasped in each other’s arms some nights we roll.
Lay me doun love, o lay me low,
and say your fervent prayers again,
whispering softly when you go
Surely he was an honest man.
Burn my corpse. Spread my grey ashes
on your dear grave, let say a Mass,
dip fingers where the water splashes
its holy font after I pass.
Truth be told I’m growing weary,
and the trail I tread is lonely.
Oftentimes my dreams are eerie
with prefigurement, for only
in death shall we lie united,
our fast promises requited.
We swore “Till death do us part.”
It did some seven years ago.
I hold him closely in my heart,
he prays for Timothy below.
I thought his editing my art
would be his legacy, but no,
I have decades of memories
revolving as I hunt these leafless trees.
I shared his passion for the sea
I’ve not sailed for many a year,
for the full moon at perigee,
for the North Star by which I steer
and mountainous geology,
his canvas where the aeons are brushed clear.
From me he learned true love of poetry.
Lastly the great thing that we share,
the faith we found so near his end,
Faeder ure, our Savior’s prayer
which heavenward at Mass we send
preceeded by the words “We dare
to say.” Pray it for me, dear friend.