Friday, January 20, 2006

The Park Dedication

Apparently, I wrote this when I got an invitation to a dedication for Shane's park. I don't know when that was, but the papers I wrote it on were sort of hidden. I found a few other poems, as well, but this one surprised me. I didn't fudge with it as I normally would before showing it. This, after all, is my blog, where I put my least finished thoughts. So, no, the line breaks don't always make sense. And the word choice could be tweaked and simplified. And it wanders. I'm strangely attached to it despite all of those faults. I'm surprised at how... I guess the right word here would be vitriolic... I had a great sense of isolation every time I had an invitation to join others in mourning.

They must have gathered

On the still-seamed sod—

Sod treacherous to high heels,

Though I can guess who wore them:

His girlfriend, first and only,

Girlfriend of two weeks, carrying her grief

Like a halo, or merit badge, surely

In high heels. His mom, a nurse,

Would have more sensible shoes—

Flat sandals, very likely. But the

College friends, the girls, all the

Fake flirtations, the girls who pulled

Him closer for effect, to be able to

Say, “you know that heart transplant kid?

I’m tight with him,” not knowing his

Mal-nourished, underdeveloped body

Produced hormones, too, for them.

I’m glad I didn’t go. Two years

Since the first eulogy, why are we

Addicted to mourning Shane? His

Death day, his transplant day, his

Birthday, his favorite holidays, we

Send each other yet another eulogy.

Maybe we feel collectively cheated,

Having listened to the priest glorify his

Christianity (which, in truth, was incidental)

And talk of his love for school, his

Academic dedication (which was

Mythical or errant). We, who knew

Him, fight his canonization, argue

For his sins and transgressions, tiny

As they were. Confessing them

For him—does it cleanse us,

Make us more holy?

I didn’t go this time. It’s unnatural

Anyway, to force this fraternity

Which, had he lived, would have dissolved

Three months after graduation. This,

The sod, is all we have in common—

The compulsion to eulogize, the feel

Of our heels piercing through, sinking

In, it’s such a comfort.

If he’d known about the park, I think

He would have rolled his eyes,

Huffed about his mom, in the familiar

Loving way we huff when moms

Straighten ties or tuck a shirt tag in. He knew

The ramifications of dying young, the hopeless

Gestures of community to shift out of the terrible

Embarrassment of having seen this coming.

So I chose to stay away as he

Chose to die—out of laziness?

More like exhaustion, too-thorough knowledge

Of how all these things unfurl if one goes forward.

The initiations, the pain of each step,

The explanations, and wondering when

The morning will come, if it will ever come,

The dawn of having all of it gone,

Behind you. I think of each of us

Like gear-work clocks haphazardly engineered—

Each gear creating new problems, each

Solution too quickly executed, filling

Us with redundant movement, the

Original problem eased infinitesimally—

Throw it away, he thought. Throw

The goddamn clock away.

I assume the mourners function better,

Cloistered against this truth—his willingness,

I mean. And I keep trying to allow all things

At once: grief, nostalgia, entropy, whatever.

Oh, I should also say relief.

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