My Friend, David Ferry

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Many decades ago, when David’s son, Stephen, and my son, Dan, were 12, the boys somehow had elected to go for 2 weeks to a camp in Maine. I assumed that the Ferrys had approved it (how could that not be a reassuring seal of approval?) and probably they assumed the same about the Mazurs. The Mazurs delivered the boys to what appeared to be an institution for juvenile delinquents—other boys being delivered by social workers or what appeared to be parole officers—and they ran off gleefully while we drove home with dread, to begin making a constant series of phone calls to a camp line that was always busy (the phone surely off the hook). One day, David and I would laugh about it.

Thus began a secret handshake of my long friendship with him, shared with no one else in our community of writers—we were as devoted and hapless as any parents could be! That was early in my knowledge of him as a poet, and his poetry over these decades has continually amazed me with its richness, its tenderness, its deliberate, piercing strength, its passionate care. Those poems have astonishingly grown deeper and richer, and the translations, in tender conversation with his own poems, have been thrilling to await and to read. David’s humanity, and yet his unflinching eye, writing from his own kind of urban pastoral, have been a lesson and an inspiration to me. I am grateful for our friendship which survived and thrived long after that first joint experience as loving, clueless parents.