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In Clara’s Home – Her Last Years, and the Summer of 1997

1990 to 1996.

The release of the Delos LP “The Art of the Theremin”, and later its’ release on CD (1987), introduced an entirely new generation to her artistry. These were renaissance years — Clara was delighted and exhilarated with such a resurgence in her career and rekindled interest in the theremin “for the right reasons”.

In October of 1991, just prior to the fall of the Soviet Union but after all travel restrictions had been eased, Lev Sergeyevitch Termen came to America for the much anticipated reunion with Clara. While Clara and Bob Rockmore had visited him clandestinely in Moscow in 1962 (they met in a metro station to avoid detection), and while I and family members had visited him in Moscow in 1985 and again in 1987, this was the first time he had been back to America since 1938. Steve Martin arranged this visit with help from John Chowning, head of the electronic music department at the University of Stanford; after a week in California, Steve brought Termen to NY, knowing how much this would mean for Clara and Lev, and for his film. True to her nature, Clara welcomed Lev Termen into her apartment yet quickly kicked Steve and his cameramen out, preferring the privacy of a long-overdue reunion. In the film, this is Clara’s famous unscripted line “CUT!”

An unfinished version of the film “Theremin; An Electronic Odyssey” premiered on Channel 4 in Great Britain on November 3, 1993; ironically, that same night Lev Sergeyevich Termen died at the age of 97. He never saw the film that carried his name.

In 1994, Steve Martin premiered the final version of his film to critical acclaim; it quickly hit the charts, gathered accolades and generated quite a buzz. At the Sundance Festival, it won the Filmmaker’s Trophy for best documentary. Steve took it to the Berlin, Munich, Vienna and St. Petersburg Film Festivals, among others, and then was invited to show it at the famed NY Film Festival. Nominated for a British Academy Award, Clara could not have been more proud, and while she teased Steve about “our” movie, always was quick to praise him and give full credit and honor for the job he did. In fact, after showing the film at the NY Film Festival in October, Steve invited Clara up on stage and she received such a long, raucous and jubilant standing ovation that she would later speak about this as one of the greatest moments in her life.

Between “The Art of the Theremin” and “Theremin; An Electronic Odyssey”, Clara was once again an international celebrity. Her phone was ringing off the hook, media were clamoring for interviews, and offers to perform were coming in from around the globe (for example, Tomita, world renowned electronic music composer and performer, wanted to bring Clara to Japan for joint performances and recordings). Clara, while thrilled with the surge of interest in her instrument and her musicianship, was in the unenviable position of needing to balance all of this with her own personal life and needs for some sanity and privacy. Needless to say, she handled it like a pro — she granted many interviews, refused all offers to concertize, and marveled at the whole thing. Without a secretary or assistant, she would often call me, Dad or one of our family members, or even Steve Martin, to come for tea or to accompany a news crew, meaning that someone she didn’t know was coming over for the first time and she wanted one of us to be there. Other times, she would ask us (and especially Steve) to handle her correspondence when she didn’t have the time or energy to respond.

In June of 1994 I married Dorothy Lawson, a superb cellist in whom Clara found a deep and fulfilling kindred spirit. Clara referred to Dorothy as a true musician who “gets it” and has the chops to prove it. Clara, who always stayed current with details of my love life, was thrilled that I had (finally) found a truly wonderful and beautiful life-mate “whom we both loved”, and the two of them developed a real affinity for each other. Clara would later credit Dorothy with saving her life, and she meant it most literally.

That same summer, Reid Welch entered Clara’s life. A piano tuner by profession, and an amateur thereminist (and accomplished electrical technician), Reid anonymously sent Clara a dozen red roses “from an admirer in Miami”, and when she contacted the florist to try to thank her admirer, Reid was given her number and called her (she was, by the way, always listed in the NYC phone book). They had a number of conversations, more flowers were sent, and Reid finally came to NY and met Clara in December of 1994. He was a charming, suave and generous person, and he offered to tune her piano for free. She enjoyed his gifts and his warm style, his doting attention and clear desire to get closer to her, and he soon won her friendship. Living in Florida, Reid was only in NY periodically and mostly stayed in contact by phone and mail. We the family were delighted, and Reid went on to become a trusted friend and Clara looked forward to his letters, calls and visits.

Of the many people who called with renewed interest in Clara, one was most poignant. In October 1994, I got a call from David Harrington, first violinist of the Kronos Quartet – he had just learned that Clara was my aunt, and wanted very much to meet her. He had been introduced to her music when his teenage son Adam, who was fascinated by the theremin, gave him Clara’s Delos recording. David said that while he was curious about and intrigued by the instrument, he was totally swept off his feet by her musicianship. In her playing, he heard the most magnificent violin playing he ever heard – phrasing, breathing, bowings, things he had not heard from any living master, and yet would most want to emulate in his own playing. For Clara, these were the “right reasons” to appreciate her music, and the three of us had a wonderful tea at her home. As she often did when she really liked and respected someone, she played for him and he came away smitten. We talked at length; he wanted to produce her Lost Album, wanted to get her music out there and had all sorts of ideas that we began discussing in earnest, but that was not to be, as personal tragedy was to strike them both in the spring of 1995.

For David, it was Adam’s sudden death at age 16 from a coronary thrombosis, and for Clara, it was a bout of pneumonia that became so severe that on March 7. 1995, just two days before her birthday, she was taken to Beth Israel North Hospital. Clara hated hospitals with a passion, and had long ago made me promise that I would NEVER let her die in one. Unfortunately, Clara was put into a double room with a cancer patient in her last hours of life, wheezing and moaning and gasping for air. Clara was freaked. I immediately went to the admissions office and with checkbook in hand, asked for her to be transferred immediately to a private room. I was told there were no rooms available – I did not accept this, knowing they always have rooms set aside for VIPS, and informed them that Clara was just such a VIP. Finally I was able to get Clara assigned to a private room but before she could be moved, she suffered a heart attack — congestive heart failure almost killed her. She was put into the ICU – and when her condition stabilized a few days hence, she was moved to a private room. Her doctor said she had suffered substantial damage to her heart, and was still battling pneumonia.

In the days following, we visited Clara daily. She was quite scared by her close brush with death, and became increasingly agitated about the indignities of hospital life. A certain medication she was given altered her taste buds and made everything taste bitter, or salty – and she stopped eating. She hated the callous treatment she was getting, and found the whole experience humiliating and depressing. Following an accident in which she was hit in the head by a heavy metal bar while being weighed, she just gave up and stopped fighting. We would come see her, and she would lie unresponsive in her bed, eyes closed, limp and not moving, her skin grey and her breathing labored. We would plead with her to fight, that she should be able to go home soon, that this was not her time to go, but all to no avail. I reminded her of my promise to never let her die in a hospital and told her I would forcibly remove her and take her back home if necessary – no response.

My wife Dorothy had an idea, and we brought a boom box into Clara’s room. Setting it on her bed (Clara’s tiny frame left plenty of room at the foot of her bed), Dorothy began playing one of Clara’s favorite chamber works, the Tchaikovsky Trio, in a version Dorothy had just recorded. Just minutes into the first movement, we literally watched in awe as color began to come back into Clara’s face. Her right hand began tapping the rhythm, then air conducting, then she was humming along, and soon her eyes were open. It wasn’t long before she was smiling, and commenting on a passage or remarking about a particularly good phrasing, as if nothing at all had changed in her life. At the end of the trio, she let tears run as she said, pointing to the boom box, “This is my life, not this” as she waved her hand at the room. She hugged us, and by that evening, was already looking forward to going home. She did so less than a week and a half later, telling everyone who would listen that Dorothy and Tchaikovsky had saved her life. I remember as I helped her from her car and escorted her back into her apartment, she hugged me and quipped that I had indeed kept my promise to her. I thought she had forgotten…

But her life would never be the same again. Her heart was weakened, and she required bed rest daily, constant medications and daily home care. Her taste buds were forever changed, and she became malnourished – not that hard for someone who never reached the weight of 100 lbs. a single day in her life. Betty Baldwin became her head nurse and trusted companion – Betty was with Clara on a daily basis, managed her domestic needs and medical schedule, and would remain with and devoted to Clara until the end.

Clara, determined to reclaim normalcy, struggled on; by mid summer, my wife and I were able to resume our tradition of taking Clara to a Sunday Champagne brunch at a local eatery, and by the end of the summer, she was strong enough to make the one hour trip to Ossining to attend Newta’s 90th Birthday. In November she traveled to Caramoor, former homestead of Lucy Bigelow Rosen, for the Theremania Festival; she was in fine form as the honored guest on a dais that included her dear friends Bob Moog and Steve Martin, and moderated by my dad. This was her return to some semblance of normal life.

Clara, never a fan of the medical profession but even less a fan of pain and discomfort, closely followed her doctor’s advice and tried to force food down, but as the year ended, her weakened heart and undernourished body (which also weakened her teeth and bones) began to take a further toll on her. There are still conflicting medical theories about whether or not she suffered from a series of mini-strokes; often virtually undetectable but widely known to effect people in adverse ways, altering personalities, changing moods, and affecting a person’s sense of self. I watched these mini-strokes wreak havoc on my maternal grandmother (Bronia Gershuni) and her personality, and saw many of the same signs in Clara — although it was never diagnosed.

With full time nursing care, lovingly headed up by Betty, Clara was comfortable and well cared for, but she struggled with demons she could not properly identify, understand or control. At times she would become fearful and angry, even paranoid – how dare this whatever it was change who she was, and force her to act like someone she didn’t recognize. At other times, she was her normal self. Unable to control it, and unsure how she would come across to people at any given time, she began to shut her door and soon was isolating herself from everyone except family and close friends, so that, in her paraphrased words, “people will remember me as I was, not as I’ve become”.

Following the success of Steve Martin’s movie, he began working to create a Hollywood feature film based upon the lives of Lev Sergeyevich and Clara, and on January 30, 1996, Clara signed an agreement with Sony assigning all rights to license her name, image and likeness for commercial exploitation – a prerequisite for major studios before they consider your material. Clara was still in relatively fine shape on good days, and struggling through bad days, but for the most part able to continue with our Champagne brunches and visits from family and close friends. While some days she would stay in bed, other days she would move freely around her apartment, or even take short walks outside or sit in the lovely garden in her building’s courtyard.

On July 31, 1996, she allowed me to bring a photographer, Chris Kahley, over for tea. Earlier, he had called me asking permission to photograph her. He was genuine and respectful, and I agreed to put them in touch while telling him not to get his hopes up. Yet he was so sweet to her on the phone, that to my delight (and surprise) she not only said yes, but she dressed up and put on makeup. She was completely her old radiant self that afternoon – telling stories and serving the tea herself, shooing away a delighted but cautious Betty. Not wanting to step on Chris’ toes, but unable to contain myself, I too took out my camera and photographed her that day – one of these images is included on page 3 of the “Lost Album” CD booklet.

Yet this period saw some sad episodes as well, and the family too fell victim to nerves and her mood swings – Clara would sometimes turn on family members as well as outsiders, and even her relationship with her beloved sister Newta began to show signs of strain. Newta was often asking me to come by and pick up bags of homemade food to deliver to Clara, all of her traditional favorites, yet Clara’s taste had changed so that it did not help and she could not eat much of it. For many reasons, nerves began to fray and other rifts threatened to open in the family. Clara tried so hard to control her moods, being aware of and not liking who she had become when under their spell. Some days she just didn’t want to see anyone, and she isolated herself more and more, once or twice refusing even me.

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5 thoughts on “In Clara’s Home – Her Last Years, and the Summer of 1997

  1. Reid Welch
    Reid Welch says:


    Steve, greetings. Long time, no talk.

    I have read only part of the first page of your side of the story. Of course, I’m upset, still, and old wounds are reopened here. I hurt.
    I withdrew from the hobby, and from contact with theremin people in the years after Clara’s death.

    I knew in the months leading to that last visit in the summer of ’97, that both her physical self and her mental state were fading.

    Periods, then moments, of lucidity. The old Clara would come through. But, more and more, she would speak to me by phone with evident paranoia—her fear that she was being ignored, or mentally abused. Somehow, she always trusted me.

    Even at that time, that spring and summer, when even YOU were not allowed to see her. No-one in your family could see her, she would see me.

    In fact, she demanded, by phone (I did not record the date), probably in the late spring of that year. It rang.

    First, let me say that as a piano technician and also as a theremin-tone expert and electronics technician, and also because I’m known as pretty sweet guy, she trusted and admired my mix of personal qualities. Her instinct for adjudging people, she thought was without fail. Of course, that was not true.

    But she called, and I can only paraphrase closely as memory allows:

    “Reid! This is Clara. WHEN can you come to New York? I need you! I have here the schematics for my instrument. I want you to copy them. It’s vital that you come as soon as you can come. They are right here in a drawer. YOU can make the sound. YOU can make more instruments like mine. Come!

    And so, that was Clara, with a new obsession: get the plans to Reid.

    So, the theremin convention was, by coincidence, scheduled.
    I was to attend. I had decided to drive, make a road trip, and see Clara on the way up, and then spend time with her when I swung back through New York.

    She agreed, was delighted, when I offered, “I’ll come up on June, I’m going to the convention. You know, it would be grand if you would speak a few words of introduction to my tape recorder, for the benefit of the opening session of the convention in Portland.

    Clara was thrilled at that opportunity, “But of course!'”

    Steve Martin was there. Bob Moog, when he heard the short address, which we played through a theremin stand-speaker,

    Bob exclaimed, ear-to-ear grin, “My GOD, man! How did you do that? How did you convince her to give you her voice? Why, she hasn’t even returned any of my calls or letters for years now.”

    She did this for me because she trusted me. In her shrinking opinion of the good-vs-bad world, all of you were rats, to be shunned. Senile dementia, definitely.

    Here’s where and when I fell afoul with Martin. That night, out of doors to have a smoke, I came across Steve Martin. We were alone. Paraphrased, small talk: “Damn sun. Eats my face.” (skin cancer trouble for Steve. And then, and this is not paraphrased, he said to me (quite surely concerned that I was an interloper and a threat),

    “You know, Reid, you should know, that I own Clara Rockmore.”

    That was it. I bid him goodnight. I now knew I was in for some shit to come. I knew that when I went back to NYC, and was slated to stay for a week, that I’d be interviewing Clara for the last time.

    I got that recording. It was pitiful, touching, and showed only the essence of the real Clara: the Clara who would give her very life, if only that would save her instrument from obscurity.

    I knew, already, from the first swing-through on the way to Portland, that Clara was confused. “Where are the schematics?”

    “Over there, in the drawer”, she waved from her seat at the table.

    I looked for half an hour. Drawers and drawers and shelves full of entirely mixed-up memorabilia, records, clippings. NO schematic.

    I realized that on the way back I’d need a week to be safe, to sift through every paper I might find. And that I did. And as I begain, I found fascinating documents from the start.

    Across the street, just right across the street, was a self-service copy place. I decided, with Clara’s clear permission (though she would forget things instantly, if we explained what-and-why, she fully understood)

    “I would like to make photostats of everything I find here of interest, to ensure there is back-up for everything.”

    “Of course, fine.” All of it was to go to the IPAM. I knew the IPAM. I even met the director and the founder on my drive up from Miami. I had a formal meeting with those two men, one of which is named Gregor Benko (founder). I forget at this time the Director’s name.

    Because Clara had assured me time and again, “All of my papers are going to the IPAM.” And your instrument? “It’s going there with all of my papers. It’s all going to the IPAM.”

    I related all this to the two principles of the IPAM.
    I was upbeat, happy to know that Clara’s unique instrument would not be lost from public view.

    I’d done so much to help her with that instrument, buying and mailing to her home, boxes of spare tubes of the type that it used.

    I collated through boxes of taken-out “junk” (but original components) and centralized all that stuff, along with the tubes,
    and so it would all be together with the instrument, not lost nor discarded as trash.

    The IPAM officials were beaming by the time I left.

    It wasn’t until I spoke to you in NYC, Steve, after I finagled and wrangled Clara to even let you and your bride set foot in her doorway, that I learned the truth: Her instrument was not slated to go to the IPAM. Clara had never updated her will. The instrument would go to Dalit Warshaw, daughter of Clara’s friend.

    I knew, by the time of the Martin meeting in Portland Maine, that I was marked for excision from Clara by Steve. If ever there were a modern Rasputin, he is or was that Steven Martin I knew then.

    I knew Steve from late ’94 onward. I had been, one time in his apartment, along with my mate, and he was gracious to us.
    And he had lots of Clara memorabilia, including the gift he gave to us: a spare, original copy of her Town Hall performance broadside.

    So, that is the only original Clara Rockmore archive document I hold today.
    I also hold a tiny contact-print snapshot of Clara in ‘thirties street dress; saucy hat, glamorous look. She presented that to me herself, “THIS is for you to have, and for no-one else. This is how I want you to think of me. ”

    But I should share it, alright? “NO! There are hundreds and hundreds of other pictures of me. Share all of them as you like, but this one is for you.”

    You know, Steve, I never lie. Sometimes I’ll fail to recall correctly,
    but, here you say:

    “Unfortunately, we don’t think that today. While Reid returned most (although almost certainly not all) of the original documents,”

    ON WHAT BASIS, on what authority, on what “fact” can you say that I did not return every scrap that I trotted across the street and back, in dozens of trips to copy all that stuff? Your statement terms me to be a thief.

    And why did I feel the need to copy it all?”
    Because! Steve Martin was about to excise me from her life.
    And oh! Yeah, now I recall (this is written in real time, I’m not proofing or editing).

    ==Back to Portland, June, the convention, my conversation with Steve.

    Me: “She called me, insisting that I have a good copy of her theremin schematic. I spent an hour looking through drawers on my visit to her the other day, but no schematic was to be found.”

    Steve: “Oh, don’t worry. I have that at my place.”

    And it went on from there. Steve was most worried, apparently, that I was going to supplant him in Clara’s affections.

    All that I ever wanted was to comfort, calm her failing peace of mind; to settle her down, to know that I would carry on after her, technical explorations, and share all that I learned from her instrument.

    But, I was about to be axed.
    Two people insured this would happen.
    Steven Martin, after I’d left with my boxes of -her- memorabila in photostat form,

    Steve Martin conferenced with Clara, and told her to this effect,

    “You know, people are not what they seem to be. Reid has raided your archive and stolen your papers and now he is selling them on the internet.”

    And you, Steve Sherman, did nothing to disabuse Clara of that filthy lie.

    And you, Steve, you would’nt have gotten your foot in the door, to meet me in Clara’s home, had I not worked so hard toward that end.

    You, know, you remember how I spoke to you on the phone, to your father, too, and that I pledged to break the ice in her mind,
    and get your family back into Clara’s life.

    The trip I made across the park, to bear a note from Clara to Newta. I met Newta. I recall her like yesterday, tears in her eyes,
    because even Newta was being shunned from seeing Clara.

    And I did my damndest to get all of you back into her life.
    I made some repairs in that direction, for I got you back inside.

    You did not take me to lunch, but, perhaps I forget.

    I only know today, that I left a big envelope with all of her loose photos with you, you promising to copy them and share them with me so we could put them online. You were humoring me.
    I was your fool.

    I kissed Clara a last goodbye that summer. A month later, less, I was poison, so far as she was concerned.

    You participated by inaction, in a character assassination.
    You exploited the situation, let Steve Martin, the crook and liar, destroy Clara’s trust in me.

    And today, I have all those boxes of archive photostats, untouched, even by myself. I can’t bear to look through the data.

    I’m a sensitive person. Read that again: I’m a sensitive person.
    Clara said so, and noted, that’s why she had me in her life.

    I could not tell her that Martin was “borrowing” from her archives.
    All I could do, in the days that I had, was to copy every last damn bit of it that I could handle.

    I did not find the main schemantic. I only found the power supply schematic. I told that fact to Steve, before his “I own Clara Rockmore” statement in Portland. Steve, interested, said,
    “Really? I’ve never seen the power supply drawing. Now just which drawer is that in.”

    Reid as the grrreat Predicto (I need fun, even during diatribes):

    Prediction: Your family, in bundling Clara’s papers, never came across her instrument’s power supply drawing. Now you know why.
    And you never found the main schematic.

    And you didn’t find a half-dozen or so original letters of Lev’s, in Russian, to Clara (I have photostats, so does Glinsky).

    You never found a lot of things because you know, Steve always had fingers that clutch better than they let go.

    If you would like the entire 1000 plus pages (all numbered) that I have in photostat form here, you’re welcome to them.

    It has been ten years. No sale of any Clara document has ever shown up, has it? So, so much for that lie you let Martin put into Clara’s head,

    that damnable lie which you chose to perpetuate in your March essay above.

    I was in error. She was right to have kicked all you Shermans from her life. She was mentally feeble, but by god, she was not crazy after all.

    I’m upset, Steve. You can tell, I guess?

    Reid Welch
    3901 Hardie Ave
    Miami Florida 33133


    The strong rule after all. One,thug in particular, did a fine job of hastening Clara Rockmore’s death.

    “He betrayed you Clara. He only did that so he can sell your stuff on the internet.”

    And you, Steve Sherman, reinforce the lie.
    What unmitigated gall.


    unproofed draft, composed in composition box, surely rife with typos, rambles, rancor.

    I do not have the stomach to go through all this again.

    and ultimately returned the tape recorder and tape, to this day he has never returned a single photocopied document. In an April 2006 Theremin World post, Reid admitted, “It was very small but exciting consolation to have boxes of fresh Xeroxes of her career’s memorabilia. Those boxes remain undisturbed here today.”

  2. Reid Welch
    Reid Welch says:


    Ammendment. I took a dose of Pepto and read what I just posted.

    The IPAM has had nine years now to catalog whatever papers they got.

    I won’t give the stuff to -you-. No, the better plan is to let the IPAM have the lot of it, and let them sift and collate and see what they did
    -not- get of Clara’s archives. I suppose they did not get the Lev letters, nor the schematics, nor a fat envelope of her personal photographs.

    They can make arrangements to pick up these boxes from me at their convenience.
    There’s no rush.
    But one addition will be made: Copies of these postings, to go with the record,
    and so, a balance, a weighing of inept and avaricious humans can be added to her record.

  3. Reid Welch
    Reid Welch says:

    Third entry

    first was “Dialog” (well, that’s a mis-title in retrospect)
    second entry, “Ammendment”

    now, for this third entry, at this writing I’ve finished reading the balance of page one.

    It is so distorted, and seems to try to sew up a story, the making of which result (the destruction of Clara’s peace of mind) you yourself were the number two instigator.

    I note that you do not relate that you were an outcast from her life,
    along with the entire family. Only three people had ready access to Clara: Betty, me, Steve and perhaps Dalit’s mother; I don’t know her.

    I do know that by mediating with Clara to let you in,
    you speedily aided Martin in kicking me out.

    And towards the end, SHE DID take my calls, and we did have several good-toned conversations, weepy and sincere and we
    both made our peace.

    And never did I speak to her a bad word about you or about Steve Martin.

    I was a gentle as a broken feather can touch.
    I did touch her again. But, by then it was too late.

    Thanks for nothing, Sherman. Thanks for airing in excruciating detail your evident ‘care’ for Martin’s rep, by reopening a long fading
    set of memories on all sides.

    Bottom line: I never made things up. I never lie. My name is know on the ‘net as a writer, poet, and enemy of public bullies.

    Butter won’t melt in your mouth. In my hands, it melts and is gone, as it should be, I suppose.

    I’m sorry to have to call out the truth. What did I ever gain?
    I got to know and love Clara in a kinship you never had.

  4. Reid Welch
    Reid Welch says:

    Fourth entry

    Steven, you quoted me out of context from this page:


    I ask readers to read that page, and see also the sentimental poem
    (I don’t call the poem “good”, I call it genuine)

    And let anyone, please, who would like to believe your version of the picture, do as they like.

    I think, though, that from the first day I spoke to her,
    I think that I was honest with her. It was her life,
    her memoribilia, her aim to share it freely, so long as
    no-one made a buck from it. She said so in her final interview,

    and I think, in the poem, that the essence comes through,
    that she only wanted what was best for her legacy,
    and best was to be open, share, disseminate.

    I followed her wishes. The practice tape, of which you feign caused “injury”, could hurt nothing. It was presented in context,
    and gave a rare chance for thereminists to -just try- to learn to play,
    as if Nadia were there in the next room, and Clara, even closer.

    The poem again, but see the page for the context.

    (apologies for filling up this page with so much of “me”. It’s for Clara)

  5. Reid Welch
    Reid Welch says:

    Self introduction to Clara Rockmore, 1994=

    I met Clara Rockmore by playing intuition
    like she phrased the theremin,
    by changing phases in the air.

    High priestess of that instrument,
    It’s not for schpooky music!“,
    she took little contact with a world
    old age, suspicion, shut her in.

    When I’d learned that Clara
    was still alive (though barely),
    a dozen roses teleported

    to her New York City home
    from an anonymous admirer in Miami.

    She was piqued. She could not phone.

    The florist called instead, “A nag
    is pushing for your name and address.”

    I looked up Clara, always listed;
    telephoned her then and heard
    her music–myself as her muse.

    “Oh! You’re the one who sent these roses?
    They’re so lovely, lasting well.
    How did you know red is my color?
    Red roses are my favorite flowers.”

    Honesty declaimed— “I guessed”.

    “Professor Termin courted me;
    he sent red roses every week.

    That was many years ago.

    Now you send me roses—so
    I must ask, I need to know

    “Nothing, Mrs. Rockmore, nothing but to say
    your music makes my mornings last the entire day.
    I listen to your album
    put down years ago.
    I think you are immortal
    but none of us are so—
    so blessed to have your soul
    and the taste you evidence.

    So I sent some roses as
    reminders of the lives you touch.”

    And nearly every-after month
    I’d send a fresh red dozen.

    But, Clara couldn’t love

    forever—lost in May of ’98.

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