In memory of Stephen A. Aaron (1936–2012)
You were the loudest of us all by far,
And the sweetest behind your fear,
Brilliant expositor of Arthur Miller and Shakespeare.
There you are at the beginning of your career
Bellowing like a carny barker
In the Freshman Commons, selling tickets to some
HDC production with your tuba voice and bigger nose.
The stylish fellows like myself were appalled.
Steve Aaron was a lot brasher than was posh,
And a lot shyer, and smart.
Suddenly he was mounting a staging of Eliot’s
Murder in the Cathedral to stop your head and start your heart,
The most gifted man in Harvard theater
In thirty years.
I remember him in Manhattan in analysis
Right across from the American
Museum of Natural History and its tattered old stuffed whale.
Aaron had an ungovernable phobic fear of the whale.
He asked me to go with him, literally holding hands,
So he could stare it down with an analytic harpoon—
And then backed out.
Years later, Goldie—his mother—pulled out of a closet
A brush and mirror set meant for a baby,
For baby Steve, and scrimshawed into the ivory back
Of each item was a tiny spouting whale!
The psychoanalyst’s name was Tannenbaum.
One day Aaron came in and, after lying down, said: “I don’t know why—
There’s this tune I can’t get out of my head! Tum tum tee tum. Tum tum tee tum.
O Christmas tree! O Christmas tree!” Steve,
You’re a blue forest of oceans, seagulls flying their cries.
I come from an unimaginably different plan.
I’ve traveled to you because my technology can.
I ride the cosmos on my poetry Ducati, Big Bang engine, einsteinium forks.
Let me tell you about the extraterrestrial Beijings and New Yorks.
You are dear planet Earth, where my light-beam spaceship will land.
I’ll land, after light-years of hovering, and take your hand.