In Memory of Ralph Homes
The favourite song you always sang,
The only one I still know fully,
Comes back, and I am now among
The palm trees in the Ojai Valley;
And you are there,
Tall, raven hair,
On horseback, riding to the village.
Your charm, good looks, and grown-up ways,
Your English suits with scarlet braces,
And worldly wisdom to amaze
This gawky friend who hid your traces -
That famous night
You came back tight.
I dragged you, singing, to the showers.
On other evenings, when the bell
Had gone for lights-out, I would linger
In your room, for you would still
Be telling funny stories. The danger?
We gave no thought
To being caught:
All risks rewarded in our laughter.
You were to be expelled, but then
Your mother came and acted tragic
Scenes. Did she sense us listening when
She worked the Prior round like magic?
Her curtain line
Rang true and fine:
‘A mother pleads with you for mercy!’
You stayed, and told me you would be
An actor one day like the others
In your family. I could see
Your name more flashing than your brother’s.
On every screen
You might have been
The handsome horseman, cowboy lover.
You died when you were young, who seemed
To have all anyone could long for.
Since then the heedless years have streamed
Away. Yet I recall that song. For
You matter still
To me, and will.
Oh, Ralph, my friend, have fun in Heaven.