With the passage of Phran, now
I feel the pull of Death, jealous king
who keeps his subjects each alone.
With sister Martha, we made a wild Injun
tribe against the wicked world outside –
We drank, we danced, we smoked
and laughed, we cried. God rest your
merry soul, Phran dear.
What’s in a name?
The proper French pronunciation of her improperly spelled name was among the many jokes I shared with Phran, hence the title of the memorial poem.
Phran, Martha and I together hoisted the anti-war, pro-pot banner during the dark, dismal 1960s, when that sort of behavior could get you arrested. Could??? It did land Martha in jail, she was perp-walked to the hoosegow along with seven other peaceniks at the end of a massive anti-war demonstration in Oswego’s East Park, August, 1970.
Phran’s beadwork jewelery was so expert, and so beautiful that it was available for purchase inside the ancient Taos Pueblo. It was a great thrill for me to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast in 1980 in the pueblo home of Frank and Sassie, an old, old couple who were Phran’s great friends. (Thanksgiving is celebrated Sept. 30, feast day of St. Jerome, patron saint of Taos pueblo.)
Let there be music
Music comprises much of the glue that held us together, not only Bob Dylan, but also Dave Van Ronk; on an LP of his, a gift from Phran, is a song called “Random Canyon.”
I promise you that Phran wants you to crank it up and sing along (it won’t take long to learn the lyrics) as you gaze at this random sample of photos that feature our beloved blond bombshell, Phranny Read:
And now an earlier poem, which may, by now, seem like an after thought!
We don’t bid our dead Godspeed to the afterlife
the way we did, in churches, where weeping echoes
off walls or gets absorbed by pipe organ blasts,
while incense spirals from an acolyte’s censer,
and the minister intones his woeful sound.
After we lowered our dearly departed into the ground,
back at the church hall there would be baked ham,
casseroles, and pies, supplied by neighbors and aunts.
Today, in function rooms, where event planners
have laid out aromatherapy diffusers and flowers,
we get right on with the afterparty and mingle,
nibbling fruit, veggies, and tiramisu, while a playlist,
synced to a slideshow, loops in the background.