Our Friend Marty

Dec 3, 2020 | 1 comment

The news came first thing this morning — a most elegant and unusual announcement from Marty Frank’s eldest son, Michael.  Just an email with the subject line, “My Father… Sad News.”  And then a drawing with Marty’s name and his birth and death dates.  That’s all.

And yet it was perfect.  Even the choice of a line drawing was impeccable.  Marty had the most lined face of anyone I’ve ever known.  I always thought it reflected years of playing tennis under Los Angeles skies.  Or, perhaps, each wrinkle stood for a concern or worry or care, or even a joy, that he harbored as head of a household of wife and three sons — each a strong, independent individual in their own right.

His face was the personification of Alastair Reid’s poem, “Weathering.”  I quote the poem here as a tribute to Marty and his remarkable family.  I feel honored to have known him.

I am old enough now for a tree
once planted, knee high, to have grown to be
twenty times me,

and to have seen babies marry, and heroes grow deaf –
but that’s enough meaning-of-life.
It’s living through time we ought to be connoisseurs of. 

From wearing a face all this time, I am made aware
of the maps faces are, of the inside wear and tear.
I take to faces that have come far.

In my father’s carved face, the bright eye
he sometimes would look out of seeing a long way
through all the tree-rings of his history.

I am awed by how things weather: an oak mantel
in the house in Spain, fingered to a sheen,
the marks of hands leaned into the lintel,

the tokens in the drawer I sometimes touch –
a crystal lived-in on a trip, the watch
my father’s wrist wore to a thin gold sandwich. 

It is an equilibrium
which breasts the cresting seasons but still stays calm
and keeps warm.  It deserves a good name.

Weathering.  Patina, gloss, and whorl.
The trunk of the almond tree, gnarled but still fruitful.
Weathering is what I would like to do well.

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