For Tomi

Tomi understood the complexity of black:
how velvet folds in a Victorian mourning gown
turn the light differently than a fall of silk,
and why both are related to and yet unlike
the obsidian lace of a flamenco dancer’s mantilla.

She lived in the heart of a mandala drawn from book stacks
and coffee mugs. In her absence, rogue contents
have begun to slip from their bindings. Dragon smoke
curls over clockwork masks while holographic star charts
flutter toward open windows. By mischievous chance,
a trickster god arises to lecture her powerless computer
about Möbius strips. She would have laughed at the chaos,
always one to enjoy the shape of knots, nonsense, and paradox.

I can’t. Though I know she’d prefer wit and comedy,
for awhile I need to cry and brood with the Elvish dirges
milling around in the more shadowy corners. Eventually,
all my tears will be shed and then I’ll consult with the cats
about the proper form for a departed librarian’s elegy.

– For Tomi Lassiter McNaughton 1952 – 2015

October 28, 2015

For Tomi poem illustration


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