She wasn’t born to happiness,
blown about by winds of a perfect
family storm. A runaway renegade
out on the street at a tender age,
a Chaplinesque vagabond who hustled,
surviving on cleverness, wit and a tinge
of larcenous charm, an instinctive
Bodhisattva who knew how to laugh
at the absurdity of it all.
A whorehouse, home for a while, until old
enough to learn how to soldier, growing
as tough as the combat boots she continued
to wear. Although she looked like a wild one
who belonged on a Harley, laughter
and the love of friends turned her around,
cleansing her soul, opening her heart
in a Whitman-like embrace of everybody
and everything—grass, flowers, men
and women, and with a zero tolerance for
hypocricy she was impervious to what
others said.
She never stopped being tested by adversity.
With every knife plunged into her kishkes,
She’d cry, twist it, turn it as hard as you can.
I will endure! Miraculously, she did.
She filled her garden with mimosa, nasturtiums
and redwood bird-feeders attracting goldfinches,
hummingbirds and chickadees who spoke to her
in a warble and tweedle only she understood.
A pro-golfer and master chef with a pristine palate,
she loved Glenfiddich, fine cigars and her calico cat.
While Ben Webster, Brubeck and Coltrane created
a mellow mood, we flocked to her living room
for intelligent conversation with a uniquely conscious,
fearless friend.
She loved everyone as a mother loves a child, never
having to explain to be understood. Ruby, a real ruby,
a beacon of rubescent light reminding us we are more
human than otherwise.
Milton P. Ehrlich