There are people in our lives who feel vital to our journeys, or maybe more so to our identities.
People who seem as though they are built into us, blurred edges and mirrored opinions. People who make us feel as if we’re home simply by being in their presence. That their existence somehow explains our own.
These people are precious, but they are their own. This is something that is hard to remember; connections, no matter how potent, are fluid. Life takes us on our own journeys, fraught with change. When vital people take exits from our world, not in death but in life, it can feel like you’ve lost yourself in their absence.
Their exit wounds, pulses, and threatens all that we thought we knew and all that we thought we were.
I sat down to write my oldest friend. A friend who enriched my childhood and my adolescence, but a friend who took exit in my adulthood. They left gradually, without explanation, until there was nothing left of them in my world.
My intent to write them was not one loaded with hope to mend but simply to acknowledge all that we were and, now, are not. Fearful of deepening the hurt, I didn’t have the courage to use words to finalise our silence.
I couldn’t write the letter. Instead I wrote this poem, in honour of our precious handheld time. A symbolic landscape of us to cradle the hurt. The blooming, the twisting, the restful, the joyful, and the sorrowful.
Writing to you, spotlights the caving
hills in my chest. Built by your presence.
Blindly believing in forever. Part sand
sticks and song; part wool, worship
and worry; part laughter, logs and lilies.
Hills rose, decayed and reconstructed
But ours. Unattended now cracking
as if under heat, a bonfire in summer.
We haven’t whispered, sung
or pleaded. There was no fight, for the land
of us. Its decay evident and observed
but riddled with malnutrition. My written
words, now, after the unsung death
mean little. Little more than acknowledgment
of a service not held. I built hills in my chest
for us, in hope that we were beyond time.
Would sense the rising waters, climb
and lay above the flood. Instead we are
washed, only we are not clean. My written
words, soapy water. Your voice now
slogging through my attempt
to sponge us down.