A Poem for Beth
On Tuesday, Beth Nickel–musician, mother of three, wife, teacher, friend, sister, daughter, colleague, reader of poetry, the list goes on–died of complications after surgery for brain cancer diagnosed only at the beginning of January.
Reeling with all who knew her warmth and spirit and music, I did the only thing I could–write a poem.
I invite you in.
Yesterday we howled for grief
Beth Nickel (d. February 2, 2021)
because she was so young and left
us gaping on a dark day into the truth
of her not here, the rift
of her viola in its case. Even her name–
one syllable–music. Say
it again, again. Unflappable as math,
desk partner playing
that impossible gig. She wouldn’t flinch.
They’re saying sweet, yes, but say
steel too. For every inch
of score, deep-throat notes, core,
she bent with pencil clinching
up-bow, down-bow, slur, fourth
finger here, more accent there, to stent
a field of sound into a hearth—
heart, earth, ear, her constant
calm. Send a text,
her reply is instant;
she will come and crouch to fix
the strings of a jangly, small
violin as if she’s kin and just next door.