Luke Valiquette committed suicide this past Wednesday.
I knew him in high school, sort of. Short, quiet, kind.
And so very, very talented.
Paul told me of his death, and it was Paul who sent me lyrics from “Sailmaker”—the song which won the first talent show Luke entered, in his junior year of high school:
He said, “Son this great sailmaker's
Gonna hang it up one day...”
Daddy is my sailmaker and mommy is the wind.
My brothers in arms could never do harm
To the sails that we mend…
Him and his guitar and a microphone, his glasses glinting in the stage lights: it was all he needed to blow everyone else—myself included—out of the water. Eighteen years later, I can still sing the chorus.
Every death steals something from the world. Twice before I’ve written of Millay’s “Dirge Without Music”:
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.
For me Luke’s formula is a simple, loving tribute, honed by a talent that seemed too big for his body. His phrase is a four-note refrain, sweet and true and haunting. Daddy is my sailmaker and mommy is the wind…
His sail has vanished over the horizon.
But whatever darkness drove him there, whatever tempest he battled, anyone who knew him or his music holds the melody to which he gentled the thunder.
Thank you, Luke. And goodbye.
5/23/2009 at 18:39
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