committed suicide on Thursday. He was 74. A couple years ago, Richard
and his beloved wife and collaborator, Barbara Howard, moved from
Toronto to Richard's hometown of Port Hope in an effort to escape
the bustle of the city and reconnect with Richard's roots. Shortly
after, Barbara died in a tragic hospital accident. Richard had been
at a loss ever since. I saw him this fall in Port Hope and he was
very much still deep in his grief. I remember thinking, and talking
with my friend about how he was obviously in a bad way. But grief
is so private and needs to be worked through on one's own terms.
All the onlooker can do is lend an ear and have patience. He had
lost the centre of his life and was just living on the edges. Last
week he went out into the night snow and didn't come in. Richard
was a good friend and a poetic grandfather to me. I don't know anyone
who doesn't crack a fond smile when his name is mentioned. He was
a generous mentor and a poet of the highest order. His work is obscure
and difficult, yet lauded by the greatest critical voices in the
country as some of the only work that will ever make it out of the
twin wells of Canada and history. His is the first suicide at which
I'm not angry. It was unexpected but not surprising. I can see reason
behind it. He held on quite a long time to make sure, and was in
terrible pain during that time. I wish him well and hope he knows
he's missed. Hopefully I'll have something longer to say later.
I wouldn't normally do this, but here is a poem for him.
I sit in my day as though it were
of china, eyes shifting from tock to tick
as if the weight of a rested glance might break
the view into pieces. Gone are all instants,
and in place, memory. The night was a bull
with eight muleta in his shoulders, a dog
stumbling in the last moments of rabies,
a bleeding wolverine caught and harassed.
To lay down and sleep under a full wolf moon
and end the quiet effort with snow;
I have seen your heart in your eyes, shining
with the fever of loss and a squalling
doubt about how long this could continue.
You held on quite some time. I saw. Good night. Go.
(posted by George)