“Everyone who ever lived brings something into this world that never was and never will be again.”
(by Martin Bubber, I believe...heard it quoted at a Bowery Poetry club event.)
Two days after xmas I got another one of those calls, the ones that coincidentally all go back to 2001, have no logical connection with what happened that year, and yet for me, every connection. Another person, gone. The initial shock, it can’t be-- for this atheist who has trouble believing in death, too---yet always is. This time it was Donald Lev calling to tell me that his wife, Enid Dame, co-editor of Home Planet News, his companion of 25 years, died on xmas.
A hundred Enids died as the calls went out that terrible Saturday morning---the person she was with each one of us---and for all---so large, humane, beautiful, repeated like prayers throughout Kalhil Chapel, in Brighten Beach Brooklyn; the day, unusually warm, and sunny for December, comforted and hurt.
These are notes scribbled at an emotional time, for something I planned to write later, when I could think more clearly. Six weeks passed. On re-reading them, I realized that this WAS it. Not “thoughts recollected in tranquility,” something logically organized relaying facts, but my reaction following the immediate blow, to allow her spirit to emerge as it did, right then, to me. Yes,“first thought best thought.”
The facts of Enid Dame’s life, her accomplishments...many...will be noted again and again till everything and nothing of who she is and what I am trying to capture here, and failing so miserably at, is revealed. “I came because of the revolution” she said in one poem I heard her read...”The sound of her being came through in her voice at poetry readings, Home Planet News Benefits, classes she taught, in the scream of delight she let out in St. Marks bookstore, the last time we unexpectedly met.
November 2003. I was on my way to see “American Splendor,” a film she was deeply moved by, whose significance only became apparent to me, afterwards. There’d be plenty of time for us to get together during the winter break. The film was no longer playing when I got there. The time had past.
We had a closeness that transcended differences in a friendship that began about eleven or twelve years ago. My lover, was still alive, and we were both working “with” as he said, not “for” her, in what became for all of us, a job from hell. We survived, went on to attend and participate in her wedding reception to Donald Lev at the Cedar Tavern by reading our poems. Their love enhanced our own, which needed none.
“My god, he was younger than I am!” Enid wrote, expressing shock and much sadness on learning of his death--”another poet’s leaving this planet”--about a year before she did.”It seems impossible” she wrote, “that he is not in this world.” I can only imagine what uneasy premonitions that news brought.
What else can I say? She was my friend, she is gone now. It seems impossible. There is no replacement. Her husband told me that the illness which led to complications from pneumonia she died from, began about two & a half years ago. Wham...I’m back there again... what my late partner described as, “a year that sucked the life out of many, one way or another,” and I referred to in a poem as “a vampire year.”
As I’m writing this, I keep hearing Enid cry out through Donald’s voice (and I’m paraphrasing..I don’t have the poem) is there anyone out there..anyone in all of eternity who can hear me?
It was New Years day, 2004, at the Bowery Poetry Club. Donald, looking lost, somewhat bewildered, spoke about memorials for her, and oh yes, his concern, to ensure he be buried next to his wife.
We who heard her cry out that day, will keep hearing it, and those who’ll read the poem, who’ve never met her will hear it too---the cry of anyone who’s ever lived, echoing through eternity.