Thomas Merton and Bob Lax were lifelong best friends. The above poem, which Lax wrote for Merton on hearing of his death, is taken from "When Prophecy Still Had A Voice". This book is a collection of the letters between Merton and Lax, edited by Arthur Biddle. The drawings themselves were reproduced with permission by Emil Antonucci. I have taken some Photoshop liberties in making them webable.
This is how Lax tells it:
LAX: Somebody asked me how I felt after Merton died. I said I certainly felt as though I'd lost a correspondent. It wasn't that I'd lost a friend because I don't feel that now either. He's there in that sense, the friend is there. But as a correspondent he's hard to get to.
I think Gladio [Gladys Lax Marcus, Lax's sister] must have sent me a cable to tell me that Merton had died. All I can remember is that right after I received it, I went down to the chapel in Kalymnos where I was living, a nice little family chapel I used to go to. I had to go to town that night and I saw this star and this cloud and this hill and I started writing a poem. It was like the "one stone" poem, just writing it because it was a poem, I usually have a notebook with me so by the time I finished it I probably stopped on the street and wrote it down in the notebook. Whatever it was, when I finished it, and not until I finished it, did I realize it was a poem for Merton.
[Note: I published this Lax poem/drawing last year on the anniversary of Merton's death on my other blog. Lax, and the friendship between Merton and Lax, is important in my knowing of Merton, and I need for this poem to be here on louie, louie.]