Elegy for Rick Griffin

The week Rick Griffin died
my daughter hit her head on a diving board.
The Soviet Union had a coup
that threatened to drag it
back into the dark ages
but quickly defeated it.
Two friends threatened
to throw each other in jail.
My old communards fought
over the ownership of the land.

Sometimes the world seems to stop -
it just won't work.
The wheels won't turn.
The waves and the wind won't rise.
The beat slows down and
the notes go flat.
It all becomes a struggle
and then a heartache until
another piece of flesh
is torn from the body.
It was a raging time
the week Rick Griffin died.

He had been discovering
new beaches on the Northcoast
to surf from - the waves
clean and rough.
His life seemed
to pound against him
waves in a storm.
He would come to see me
only when he found
the curve of the right wave.
It was foggy on the coast
the week Rick Griffin died.

He would appear glidingly,
silently as if he were standing
by my side always.
His slight smile saying,
"Didn't you know I never forget?"
It was like waiting for a lover
the anticipation, the fear
that she wouldn't return
or waiting for Owsley
who would come when
he felt least expected
and the phone wouldn't stop ringing.
There was a fateful dread in the mind
the week Rick Griffin died.

Somber, outwardly serene, waiting
for the image, the line,
his own line, not the client's line.
Time and inspiration
dueling against the deadline,
the deepening lines of age,
the white line on the highway,
the scars, the bruises, the fire,
the lines of love churning
into a whirlwind, and then calm.
All the losses and recoveries
become sin and redemption,
darkness and light.
His life speeding
toward the elegy,
The day Rick Griffin died.

Always the primed canvas waited
for the still moment that rarely came
the moment out of time
where whirlwinds and waves
become form and color.
Life, as with all of us,
colliding with the elegy.

Now he has gone through
the glowing doorway
he kneeled before
covered in armor
lancelike pen
and ink bottle in hand
surging up and over
the waves of light,
the armor dissolving
swirling naked
into the eye of light