Meyers' body of work is small; but small as it is, it deserves to be reissued and brought to a new audience. Al Wachtel, a Pitzer colleague, calls Meyers "an imagist born out of time," referring to a post-Romantic movement in French and English poetry that sought, rather than exalt emotion, to displace it from where the reader might expect it to some unexpected place. Imagist poems are often easy on first reading, deceptively casual, like haikus; they become deep or difficult, paradoxically, only on repeated reading. Meyers, who knew that his unbreakable tobacco habit would eventually kill him, displaced his despair from the cigarette, where it was expected, to the teacher's stump of chalk, where it wasn't:
\o7 Smoke waters the flowers
that grow in the lungs.
The cigarette, like your life,
is a piece of chalk
that shrinks as it tries to explain.\f7
The imagist part of Meyers' spirit may be the part that Maurya Simon has taken away. There was no more intense moment in the memorial service than her reading of Meyers' dry-eyed "The Poets," a poem apparently written near the end of his life:
\o7 There he sat among them
(his old friends) a walking ash
that knows how to smile.
And he still dreamed of a style
so clear it could wash a face,
or make a dry mouth sing.
But they laughed, having found
themselves more astonishing.
They would drive their minds
prismatic, strange, each wrapped
in his own ecstatic wires,
over a cliff for language,
while he remained to raise
a few birds from a blank page.\f7
As she read him, one believed it possible.
Any stranger happening on this memorial reading would have guessed, as I did, that Meyers had just recently died. And been wrong: He died fully 15 years ago. American memories are said to be short, student memories shortest of all. Teach what can't be taught, though, and your students will remember you forever.