Michael Friedman, an Obie-winning composer-lyricist who held numerous leadership positions around New York theatre companies, has died at the age of 41…Friedman’s death on September 9 followed complications with HIV/AIDS.
~ Playbill, September 09, 2017

A nuthatch eats a grasshopper
on my driveway and I realize

this is a thing I’ve never seen
before. It’s the kind of thing

you don’t realize you’ve never seen
until you see it: the bug is on its back

and the bird’s twig-thin foot clamps
the belly down as it pecks away

in cool, quick, jabs. For a moment,
I hope—just a leaf? But dawn-light shows

a dying green leg slowly pedal
through tiny air. A translucent,

ripped-off wing—
iridescent, shimmering—

lands beside the wheel
of my son’s scooter

and I think of you, Michael,
who I barely knew but did,

some, in school, when we were young.
Senior year you put Auden’s

Musée Des Beaux Arts to music
which we tried to sing in choir,

our teenage jaws unlocked around
about and wrong in the first line.

Your song’s avant-garde sharps
put a tune to our brooding moods,

but what did I really know of suffering?
Like, I backed my nine-seater station wagon

with the sweet wood paneling
into your sister’s car and cried

(your parents were so kind).

Plus I was too tall, and David Cope
broke my heart, and all the other

getting-taller boys with wrists
I could circle with my fingers.

(You suffered: I will not guess.)

Space and depth; how does one
measure the distance between

where a person is and ends?
Take my son, for instance, how

the baby at my breast
just turned eight and likes eggs fried,

makes a solid corner kick, gels his hair
to “make it Elvis” I tell you

he will spend an hour under
the bathroom’s harsh fluorescence

just to sculpt that perfect swoosh.
You settled into such a beautiful man,

the Google Image search reveals.
It’s been over twenty years—

I mean isn’t there always somewhere
to have to get to—and so I scour

all the voices—Love and mercy
mourning you in finite characters online—

Only Michael would know how to make sense of this

any limits on language seeming just as well, as
No words repeats

on your sister’s timeline.
No words, There are no words,

for what we finally can see
we’ve never seen before,

until we witnesses the tragedy
in lights because light has to

shine on this disaster: someone amazing
disappearing into the music we’ll never hear.

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