In Memoriam

I wrote this in 2008 and was a recovered file after losing everything to a house fire.

 

Long, too long America

Traveling roads all even and peaceful you learn’d from joys

and prosperity only,

But now, ah now, to learn from crises of anguish, advancing,

grappling with direst fate and recoiling not

And now to conceive and show to the world what your

children en-masse really are…

 

–Walt Whitman

 

  1. America

 

Listen

sit with me

let me share my eternal afternoon—

long and frightful

I cannot tell you details

I allude to it in vague references—

the pain still and heavy as concrete or steel—

how to breach the gap left in my heart?

I have lost a son, a wife, a friend—an entire family

I am of many nations and my skin smells

of different continents

 

II.  Spirit

 

How the air filled with sparks shooting to the heavens

souls exited, leaving behind memories

that barnacle in my septum

histories whose ashes populate my tongue

I thirst—

shut off the news reports

no statistics

say instead another prayer

sit, listen to me: I need respite

let me walk into the wilderness

let the autumn breeze cool my face

 

III. Pain

 

I do not vanish

I do not flinch

I do not give way

I simply merge into your everydayness

find comfort in your routine

and succor you when you run

shut the door

and nestle your face in your hands

time does not pass—when will it?

you breathe, you are ok once more, you exit

and smile as they greet you

 

IV.  Mourning

 

The truth is, morning never comes

I am truncated between afternoon and sundown

and while others forget, I do not

I teach myself to find comfort in remembering:

my breath lengthens, my blood pulsates slower

and I am there:

in that silence, peace finally comes

I become omnipresent throughout the before and in this during

and in the later that I will become

I want to go far away:

I dream I become the Antarctic, nestling an endless ice shelf

 

V.  Anger

 

It overwhelmed me

made my typing still

my jaw freeze shut, gums bleeding

made the ordinary swing of my arm precise, with intent:

as I buttoned, reached for my coffee, turned another page, shut the blinds.

For a while it was the only antidote to crying

until I would break down again, impotent under its heavy load;

it comes and goes at will, but mostly surprises me at night

makes me sit upright, search for sunlight behind the windows.

Take this burden, I cannot bear it any longer

let me instead fall asleep to my crying once more

 

VI.  Forgiveness

 

I drew a line long ago I would not cross

a line of fear and anger and longing

a line so thick I buried my own within it, sacrosanct.

I would run barren into the brush

knowing where I had to stop: here, at this juncture;

and now, now I must cross it?  Why now?

It would be like this never happened

that all of it was for nothing

I do not want to let go, I will not

I will stand alone, firm

broken

 

VII. Peace

 

Where will I find my resting place?

No practice I muster brings it

when it comes, it does so in waves

like the rest of them: unstoppable, unpredictable as sunshine

so when it does, I hold on to it

plead with it sweetly:

tell it of a place in my home I have made for it–fire burning

a bed carefully made, slippers, good light, and a good read, waiting.

I must let go, I must forgive

find myself, alone, at the mercy of this American wilderness

and like a pioneer of old, succumb to it

 

VIII. Bargaining

 

In order to let go

I barter my pain, draw another line

promise to manage it only to a certain depth.

I tidy up my longing, hold on to memories

package them away, turn the key, face the day.

The anger escapes, intangible, sneaking a peek when least expected

and I learn to forgive this much, only to this crossroad, one

that becomes multifarious, extending throughout time.

In the end, all is forgiven

peace arrests me, forcing me down unconscious:

for a precious moment I sleep stupefied and omniscient

 

IX.  Manifest Destiny

 

I rise from this premature dusk of dust

certain that my quest will never end

that I must forge a path forward

that my strength outnumbers all of us.

Something within burns, effulgent

knowing that this new American wilderness

will surely offer resting places

that our steadfast faith from before will conquer this frontier as well

that the spirit that formed us stretches fearlessly across all time.

I rise, eyes resolute, an eternity of days before me

radiant