Saturday, February 27, 2016

#SOL16: Dear Friends and Relatives

Marilyn HarrisonThis is a poem Rob wrote after he received an email from a friend/sister, Marilyn Harrison, last spring. I found the poem on his laptop and wanted to share it. Rob grew up with Marilyn and her sister Joyce in Brooklyn. Marilyn died from cancer on July 12, 2015. When Rob wrote the poem he had no way of knowing that he would be diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer a month after Marilyn's death.

Dear Friends and Relatives

today, i'm stuck

an old friend 
has written an email—

not a friend exactly, something 
else, more on the order of
an almost sister
i never see anymore

my mother's best friend's 
oldest daughter, 
my age, my contemporary
& sick

progressed, she says

putting my affairs in order
in my own satisfying way

induces cascade failure,
a widening cataract of
incomplete stories
accelerated by gravity

a few days later, 
a phone call
& the rest of the story 
is out

yeah, we'll get together
i think, 
& about a month from now
maybe we will—
i'll fly out to san fran
and spend a few days
tracking  haunts
i've never visited
as if this accounts
for what's being lost
& then what?

i'll have to leave 
& we'll both know
i'm  likely not coming back 
save maybe one more time

but for those few days
we'll remember all kinds of 
childhood stories, tell ourselves
others that fill in blanks
with the kind of honesty
that comes with 
the clarity of finality—
and then we'll tell the rest
the ones meant to soften
the truths 
our lives no longer 
for occasional news
we'll no longer get

& though we'll mourn 
what never was
in those farewell moments 

i'll  turn away
from that all
to get on a plane
& fly home
to what i left to come here:
an ongoing life,
a wife, 
a son, 
& who knows what

while she'll have left here
all to go back home
& lie in the quiet 
down of a who knows when
forgotten morning 
too soon come

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