Monday, January 25, 2016

The Last Time I Bumped Into Don Murray

                                                 by Ralph Fletcher

The last time I bump into Don Murrray
 his 83 year old hands were long,
white, blue-veined, tremulous 
but strong when we shook hands.

Those hands carried a gun in the war,
and broke up fights between soldiers.
At 50 they signed the legal paper
to take his daughter off life support.

I’d watch him offer a hand to his frail wife,
not to lift her up, as he explained it,
but as a fixed point in the world
she could pull against to stand.

The hands gestured as he talked:
 “Even when Minnie Mae was dying
I was able to finish most projects—
I did a lot of writing in my head.”

I pointed at his hand: “You’re bleeding.”
The waitress fetched a Bandaid,
his hands such a river of trembling
he could not manage to unwrap it

so he finally let me do it for him,
more amused than embarrassed,
muttering about new medication,
as I tenderly covered the small wound.


  1. Your poems always go right to the heart, Ralph. I knew a lot about Donald Murray's books on writing. Now, thanks to your poem, I know more about this amazing man.

  2. I have learned from and admired Donald Murphy's work from afar. Authors seem larger than life. Your words provide a window into the real person. Thank you for sharing.

  3. The Dons. I miss them. Such big truths in these little things.