Poems in Memory of Peter Mikuliak

by Richard Dauenhauer

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Real Time
A Triptych for Pamela
in memory of Peter Mikuliak
 ( April 28, 1944 - September 5, 2000)

I telephone the number that you sent
by email. We were traveling. Back home,
I read my mail. "Peter’s dying now."
A week ago, "A day or two at most.
It’s time to say good by. He may not speak
but probably just listen." So I go
off line and call. It rings and rings and rings.
By this I know that he’s no longer there.

II

Perhaps it’s true: your life unfolds before you
as you die. Now I recall the times
we had together. Ancient Greek has two
words for time. They intersect in you.
Peter, always punctual in kairos,
the time for action, here and now chrono-
meter of life, but also kept his eye
and watch on khronos, cosmic time: relief
work in war-torn Bosnia, summer
camps in Russia, helping youth restore
its churches. Winters in Alaskan
villages, helping those recovering
from drugs and alcohol. We shared escapes
to opera, Brazilian restaurants,
and Mahler: in the dark nights of the soul
from the tropics to Tyonek, Mahler "sehr
langsam" movements, gathered in your own
anthology. And now the volume fades.
We savor final chords of Mahler, heart
beat ever fainter, lingering, as all
our measurements of time become unreal.

III

Your passage at the turning of the year:
the Church’s measurement of time
winds down, begins again, conveys us through
Transfiguration first, and then
the end, Dormition, Falling Asleep, with
images of seeds and flowers, each
changing form to be of use again.
The harvest in, the year begins
anew, a second planting in the fields
of time, the images reversed
as in the festal icon: Christ holding
His infant Mother, newly born
into eternity; and turning Sappho,
an image of the Morning Star herding
sheep and children gently home. Even
His brightest stars and constellations fade
at dawn when shown the brilliant light of God.

—Juneau, September 6, 2000

 

Letter to God
Recommending Peter Mikuliak
 (April 28, 1944 - September 5, 2000)

Peter (what a gift to everyone
who knew him) comes well known; his resumé
curriculum of life, though incomplete
from our point of view, is still crammed full
of everything, a vita, race of life,
stunning in its character. So, Lord,
of whom the Psalmist tells us how you know
our very thoughts before we think them, (thus
making words for Peter’s cause redundant),
please accept this letter and these prayers
from us who miss the target, falling short
regularly. And, Peter, por favór,
our menu is obscure, so please advise.

—Juneau, September 8, 2000

 

 

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