Elegy for Roy

Contributed By Debora Greger


<p><strong>For a Historian, Dying Young</strong></p>
<p>in memory of Roy Rosenzweig, 1950-2007</p>
By a pond, by a hospital, a bird,
feathers as starched and white
as nurses' uniforms used to be,

stalks a muddy bank in red high heels.
Down into the muck of Florida
go eight scarlet inches of decurved beak

as if, tired of the clay that passes for food
in the afterlife, an ibis has stepped from a frieze
in some young pharaoh's tomb to feed.

Past a pool of ketchup where a French fry fell,
beak and claw leave their marks in mud.
Herodotus, father of history, father of lies,

if you're the thin shade under a palm tree
across the water, tell me a story that doesn't end
with my reading in the Times today

that emptiness sits at a desk in Virginia
where Roy should be. No longer
does his computer glow and thrum:

let the tree frogs of Arlington take note.
Let a crow call us to preen our black feathers.
Down leaf-littered sidewalks, down streets that sag

under the names of long-dead presidents--
is that Death the worker making his way in sober suit?
A crumpled page, a fallen leaf--gone too soon,

the labor historian, late of Lincoln Street.
<p>--Debora Greger</p>
<p>I shared an office with Deborah in her first and my only year at Mason. By the spring of that year, there was mention on her part of someone she was seeing, someone who sometimes came to town. We all know who that turned out to be! And how we all miss him.</p>