Though he was tall and gangly,
one shoulder up and the other down,
all angles at the piano or
bowing his battered viola,
he didn't take up much space in the world.
He lived for years in the same small place,
collecting sheet music and jokes
to copy at the library and mail to his friends.
Old Eagle Eye, some of them called him,
because he never seemed to practice
but hardly ever missed a note.
That bright awareness lived in a dim apartment,
frugal, thrifty, never wasting anything,
not even his body, much repaired, which he
left to science. He eschewed all custom of dying
and had neither funeral nor obituary.
We learned about his leaving
when our card to him came back,
unopened, with the news. Toward the end,
he said there was a time when his eyes
nearly burned the notes off the page,
but that now the eyes wanted to look away.
He left hardly a trace, not wife nor lover,
not child nor cat nor potted palm.
Anatomy students sometimes admire
the qualities of cadavers, finding
excellence in the vessels, or evidence
of courage in the body's efforts
to heal itself. Of course, they cannot know--
there is no way for them to know--
the lovely music which flowed
from those living fingertips.