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Dear Aretha, I know you’re in Detroit and I’m here,
miles and miles away, but I’d like to apologize,
before it’s too late. You’re on your deathbed,
that’s pretty clear, surrounded as you are
by family and friends, and the national press
in the trenches already, sensing a headline. Poems
like this are more personal than public eulogies,
and for the most part not even close to being a blip
on most Americans’ consciousness. So my apology is
between us, which is proper and more poignant.
Aretha, I apologize for having never written a poem
for or about you, not in all the Hit Parades of years
I’ve grooved to you and your soulful music. I admit,
I’ve written many about many of your peers,
some equal to you in their various musical ways,
some not even close. I apologize, I really do,
but know this, dear Aretha: Even as you lie bedridden
there in the shadow of Motown, this latecomer poem,
unlike any others I might have written, catalogs nothing
less than the entire opus of the entirely beautiful you.
George Drew lives in Mississippi. His many books include Drumming Armageddon (Madville, 2020).
Copyright 2020 George Drew
For a selection of free music videos featuring Aretha Franklin, please click here.