ODE TO JOAN BAEZ

I too would have fallen
for your grave purity.
I have always
had a weakness for
a girl with a guitar.
Easy to see you
and Bobby as perfect
partners, too perfect
to last long—
sooner or later
you were bound to
crash that mirror.

Marvelously concentrated,
you presented to
a soul-starved world
a picture of soul.

No one’s muse,
you became
a truth-teacher,
in which role
you were harrowingly
tested by the bombs
of Hanoi, the bullets
of Sarajevo.

Watching
old concert footage,
I fall in love—
that seduction of
the past, does it
snatch at you too?
Do you also
ponder where
it went, that grace,
that dark wind
collected in the eyes
and in the voice’s
unwavering clarity?

What hasn’t
changed is the fact
that you were on
the right side of history.
Into our time God
sent a Black Lion,
and you walked
a while beside
him on the path.
Because you not only
sang but spoke,
there are people
alive today
who did not kill,
who did not die.

 

—Thomas R. Smith


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