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.