Sunday, November 08, 2009
To Elaine Calzolari 12/30/50-11/8/09
Astolat. Public art by Elaine Calzolari
My friend and sister-in-law Elaine Calzolari died early this morning. A sculptor whose innovative work with stone revolutionized the field, her favorite work was Astolat, named after the legendary home of the fair maiden Elaine of Arthurian legend.
It is my privilege to have shared her life and death along with her daughter Miranda Paley. We should all be so blessed to exit earth with such a brave and loving soul as Miranda at our side. Elaine's favorite poem was "Witnessing" by Gary Miranda, the perfect tribute to this mother/daughter team. Godspeed Elaine!
Beneath the leaves of a plant, that's named for milk
that bleeds milk, we search for chrysalides,
things that I've never seen, but whose name I like.
And I think as I look of all the things
you've taught me to name--larkspur, loose-
strife, sea lavender, plants called hens
and chickens, butter and eggs, your eyes
bright with such knowledge and solid as nouns.
Just so, you tell me now of creatures
who choose the underbelly of these leaves to make
wombs of, studded with gold, from which emerge
Monarchs that range the length of the Atlantic
in hordes--one more fact I must have missed
by skipping the fourth grade. And when, today
we find no trace of anything resembling this
miracle you mention, and I'm about to say
you made it up, you bend down, break a pod,
and blow unlikely butterflies in the sky's face-
not black and orange like Monarchs, but cloud-
thought white, or like the way I mark my place
when I read your eyes, which witnessing claim:
This is the world. Try to learn its name.