What we do not write for those who do exist

we write for one who does not exist 

photo by John Stewart

   If all life is a struggle then you were the one who was always alive. Others saw your beauty, or your intelligence, or your humour, but they did not see how you were always gasping for breath, always struggling. For those who could understand anything it was that you were drowning— you were always the drowning one. What they did not know is that you were never truly drowning because you could breathe underwater. In fact, not only could you breathe underwater but you could not breathe above the water. And so your entire life was one of attempting to extricate yourself from those who wished to keep you from drowning… those helpful ones, those saviours who were doing nothing but killing you.

   Exhausted and numb you persisted while your eyes, blue accusations that could not be ignored, disclosed your truth. Your entire being was an embodied incomprehension, your presence an exasperation— I can breathe underwater.

   But I recognized your struggle. And though my approaches were sodden with farewells I tried to hold you. Always slipping from my arms I could never truly embrace you. But how could I restrain you from moving towards your proper place? To greet you was to take leave of you, I knew that. And so when at last you freed yourself from every attachment and committed yourself to that far and fatal shore how could I follow you? When every attempt to comfort or to understand was suffocating you how could I allow myself, an incommensurability, to accompany you into depths which were for you alone? You once said that love, if it has any justification at all, must tolerate and support transcendence… must be able to breathe underwater. If true I should be able to follow you, to find you— if only timidity and the mundane were not my birthrights. No, I know that the eternity that you were cast into is one from which I must be forever excluded.

   You said to me once at the ocean’s edge, “the sea is where living begins for those cursed with life. Just listen, you are known here and are always being welcomed… it is a homecoming”.

   I have listened and I have heard nothing. I am always listening. But there is only the silence that has taken your place, the stillness that has succeeded your struggle.  If love has any justification maybe it resides in an ability to say no to time, to reject its edicts and scourges and instead to endure, if only to declare, I remember.

May 2006



photo by John Stewart

Poetry is Disaster