February 8, 2014

In Memorium by Herbert Woodward Martin

In Memorium
Richard DeVore (1933-2006) 

Dear Richard:
Today I find myself in The Carnegie Art Museum casually making my way towards The Charity Randall Gallery when I suddenly encounter your name and the case which houses your particular hands. Immediately, I am on a mission to see what of yours, the directors have collected in this museum. I remember that your hands dispensed the charity of friendship, coffee, tea and sometimes sweets to accompany the drink. I remember your surname, your given name, and then there it is: a stone grey bowl with your name and dates recorded on a small 2x5 card which informed me you are dead.
Now, I know for sure that we are contemporaries born in the same year, but several months apart; we were rich and poor, white and black, although, that never seemed to matter to you, or your universe. What did you wonder about after such visits?. Years later, well beyond those youthful, imaginative days, I saw a work of yours in a German Art Museum (Kunsthalle). I had forgotten that fact until this moment as a new set of friends usher me through this American museum rushing me forward to see Impressionist Painters assembled for three months and paired with some great lithographers; the still photos of Alfred Steiglitz, the paintings of James Abbott McNeil Whistler who we think of principally because of his mother. You are there in this place having mastered and illuminated the mystery of shapes and shadows.      
I am here trundling into the past when you used to give me rides down Indian Road when I worked menially for the Barons. Those were incredibly rich days when I believed that Toledo offered the world a vast amount of talent and we would all achieve fame and fortune, and be remembered like I, now, remember, the gracious generosity your hands offered, all those years ago in total friendship.
Now, it is my turn to extend my hand into eternity with this poem,
Herbert Woodward Martin

Herbert Woodward Martin taught at The University of Dayton for three decades and has spent much of his career promoting and editing the works of Paul Laurence Dunbar. As a sideline, he performs with symphony orchestras around the country as a narrator. 

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful heart-wrenching poem. Told with tenderness, graciousness, and such an honor to both the writer and the artist.

    Thank you.