Inspiration comes in many forms. Merla and I met 47 years ago in a watercolour painting class. An avid traveller, twice a year with her husband Lynn she loved exploring beautiful cultural sites throughout the U.K. and Europe. Whenever she returned from abroad, we would meet for lunch. Sharing her photos and vivid accounts fired my imagination, enough in 2011 to publish a free PDF of The Merla Poems, with its lengthy introduction describing our bond as muse/dear friends, on my website. Sadly, on May 19, Merla passed away. This poem is dedicated to her:
for Merla McMurray 1943-2023
Into my eyes you gather
great cities’ glittering spires,
rugged towers, and airy piazzas.
Like sunshine on aqueducts,
each peeling century you adorn
with the lustre of pale frescoes,
chipped mosaics, rain-worn statues,
and I breathe in
crumbling walls as they open
onto a terraced garden
where a dark pool ripples
rows of rustling poplars,
and shadows blue a pergola at dusk.
One by one you call up
not simple photographs
but spirits of water, earth, and air,
and eased from aching bones, close crowds, and heat,
a thousand miles, still home
I travel Europe with you.