Yesterday was the shining memorial service for Aaron Calovitch, our friend who died earlier this month. Held in Liberty Hall in downtown Lawrence, and officiated with great spirit and vitality by Rev. Michael Nelson, the service brought together hundreds of us to share stories (through Aaron’s friends Dave Johnson, Skylar Sterling-Simon, and Mike Doveton, and stepdad Frank Norman), and music (via Aaron’s uncle Gary Frager — with accompaniment by Sue Frager, and Lana Maree Haas). I also shared this poem I finished just a few hours before the service about the Aaron that was and is still one of our own. Here’s also the photo that got me started on the poem, a scene from KAW Council many years ago featuring Aaron and some of his closest pals (Aaron is in the center). Aaron’s gone (at least in this way of being), but our love for him binds us together for many adventures to come.
One of Our Own
He’s one of our own: a golden-limbed boy,
one hand on his hip, the other holding an ornate box turtle,
his open face shining like the lake behind him,
everyone laughing until the camera shuttered,
and he flew back into motion. There he is in a canoe.
There he is running the woodlands balancing two prairies.
There is is, cutting carrots in the kitchen with women his mother’s age.
There he is in our arms, no shame in hugging anyone ever.
He is the boy who watched falcons lift off the naked limbs
of a sycamore while he stood still as fallen leaves.
He is the man who knew his sauces as well as his snakes.
He could track the arc of a great blue heron, swim
the length of the wide pond, and return home with a story.
He is the artist leaning into the refrigerator to find
what’s forgotten, then swirl and saute it into dinner for all.
He is the man mowing his grandparent’s yard before
watching the big game, and he is always laughter
around the fire, in the dark with friends,
or in the living room at Thanksgiving.
He is the blown-over bluestem next to one butterfly milkweed
in the loop-sided circle we made with him in spring
to offer up water, wishes, prayers for prairies and lives.
He flew through hard landings and delicate losses
to go somewhere else. Our present one, our gone beloved,
we love him fiercely as drought loves rain even if
what we knew of his flashing smile didn’t reveal
his flight path across the blue to the golden horizon.
He is a river more than a highway, and wherever he is,
wherever we go, we listen for the sound of wings.