feather of light,
Maryse and me the portrait
Of Toussaint L’Ouverture
That he’d found in a Shop,
Then framed with his cabinet-maker’s craft.
In his third-to-last month of life on Earth.
José Cruz, cancer had bent you,
Like a knife over seven years.
Vertebra by vertebra, the disease’s fangs
Ate your spine, an acid devouring bone.
You were already short. You were
More ennobled than diminished. You
Looked up from your stoop,
José Cruz, with that so-sweet smile
Only hearts that know from pain find.
“How is Carmen?”
You asked, José Cruz,
When you, Maryse and I last met.
Champion! Conquerer yourself!
“Émerveillé!” (one rapt with wonder) Maryse exclaims.
Angel with the secret! Feather never
Less than a sun and a moon
With your upturning light!