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Two Elegies by Scott Hightower


Last year on January 30th, my friend Dr. José Fernandez died of a heart attack on his way to work at a nearby hospital. He collapsed on the sidewalk in front of his home. It was an unbelievable shock. José had been caring for patients in the ER since the pandemic began; a doctor gone from the front lines was an awful loss. The saddest I felt was for Scott Hightower, José’s partner of forty-one years. They were so happy together that the thought of that bond ending in the blink of an eye was heart-wrenching.

I visited Scott last week, brought him some banana bread filled with cranberries, raisins and figs. It’s so good to visit, to sit and talk with a friend; catching up has its insights and gossip is always a pleasure.

Scott told me he’d been writing poems every day since José’s death. Much of it he would never publish. When Scott read two elegies he had been working on, it was all of the moment. He had put on a silly chicken hat to recite and I recorded him on my iPhone. We discussed redoing it later more formally with a better camera, but there was no need to do it again because it is perfectly poignant the way it is. 




Over slippery stones
and through swirling streams,
he is my steady, soothing counsel.

He wouldn’t have liked
growing into an aging
body. He is beautiful.
And today he dies.

He will never have to suffer
any disabling disease or illness,
or the corruptions of time.

He has it pretty good.
He has money in his pocket.
And my love. He will never have to grieve

losing me. This is Saturday.
A bluebird sky. He will not have to
be out Tuesday shoveling snow.

Designed to pass. Hang in there.
This morning, this day,
still intertwined. This day too,
will pass. His shadow.

He will not have to percolate decisions.
He will not have to seek peace beside
the still water. He will not have to endure

the stars in the sky. He will be thought.
He will not have to endure the kindness
of friends or strangers, the stares

of a city. He will not have to wait
for the scattering, even hope
for the shattering of new love.

He will not have to walk
through the days ahead
as if he owned them.


Sobre piedras resbaladizas
y a través de corrientes arremolinadas,
él es mi firme y tranquilizador consejo.
No le hubiera gustado
creciendo en un envejecimiento
cuerpo. Él es bello.
Y hoy muere.
Él nunca tendrá que sufrir
cualquier enfermedad o dolencia incapacitante,
o las corrupciones del tiempo.
Lo tiene bastante bien.
Tiene dinero en el bolsillo.
Y mi amor. Él nunca tendrá que llorar
perdiéndome. Este es el sábado.
Un cielo de pájaro azul. El no tendra que
salir el martes a palear nieve.
Diseñado para pasar. Cuelga ahí.
Esta mañana, su día,
todavía entrelazados. Este día también,
pasará. Su sombra.
No tendrá que filtrar decisiones.
No tendrá que buscar la paz al lado
el agua quieta. Él no tendrá que soportar
las estrellas en el cielo. Él será pensado.
No tendrá que soportar la bondad
de amigos o extraños, las miradas
de una ciudad. El no tendrá que esperar
para la dispersión, ni tendrá que esperar
para la rotura de nuevo amor.
El no tendrá que caminar
a través de los días venideros
como si fuera su dueño.



No drama. Some lonely, foolish
sentimental moments. Some poised,
some not so poised; but all on track.
Be it the first of many more
adventures or one of the last…
be it one of the good ones. With you,
even the dismal was beautiful.


Sin drama. Algunos solitarios, tontos
momentos sentimentales. Algunos preparados,
algunos no tan equilibrados; pero todo encaminado.
Sea el primero de muchos más
aventuras o una de las últimas…
sea uno de los buenos. Contigo,
incluso lo lúgubre era hermoso.



  1. Doris Gayle row. Conradt

    Scottie, it did my heart good to hear you read about Jose’.
    I think of you all the time. This can’t be an easy time for you. It must feel like a huge void. I pray for God to soften this blow for you.

  2. Carla Salinas

    Scottie, it was good seeing you and hearing your touching emotions of such an overwhelming loss. We think of you often and look forward to seeing you again. Mandamos abrazos y besos! Carla and Gretchen

    • Italo Sanchez

      Scott, my friend, my advisor, and most of all, my pool partner. My candle is still burning for José . Thank you for introducing me José Luis through your words & photos,Stay strong Cowboy & remember this shall past as well. See you soon Scottie. Un abrazo grande!

  3. S.K. Duff

    Scott, I had no idea that this had transpired… What a loss for you (obviously) and the world as well (God knows we need more doctors, especially now)! The poems are lovely in their simplicity! The “Lone Bird…” unexpectedly made me breakdown in tears. It’s been too long since we have connected… AND I’d love to see you IF you are willing to suffer this fool gladly. XO, SK
    PS The chicken hat’s a nice touch!

  4. Italo Sanchez

    Dear baby Cake’s, my friend, my advisor, but most of all, my pool partner. Thank you for introducing me to José Luis through your poems & photos. Stay strong Cowboy & remember this shall past as well. Know that José candle is still burning. See you soon, OXOXO

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