For Zachary

Men in black slacks and ties next to women
In high heels and purses to match
Just so suddenly absurd

Holy man up front drones on about God’s faithfulness and
we, the left behind, simply sing for lack of conviction.
And when the song is done, we drown ourselves in
scriptures of promise, and a metal face on the wrist affirms

time still goes on.

We laugh and cry at remembrances of a life so vivid we
still nearly feel, almost see, barely hear the voice
that used to make you feel like you were the only one alive.
And now you are.

But when we walked outside and everything was bright, we
passed the yellow misery mum,
So alive you’d never know it’s dying inside with

each moment that passes.

And somehow the bridge from life to death seems strangely
one lane and painfully easy to cross—
that with one tick of the second hand he was on the other side and
she, the one who should be weeping, smiles to be strong for the rest.

“The bridge was short, lined on either side by golden mums.”
We’d hear him call if only we weren’t so consumed by the
holy man’s declaration: “We will hear from God.”
Haven’t we already heard? 
Wasn’t God loud enough in death?

Time’s up.

So we sing of dancing on golden streets and all I can do is watch her.
He may be dancing now, but whom will she dance with?

And I take the batteries out of my watch.

The bell tower laughs at my futile attempts
The chimes chiding me, chanting

Life        will        go          on

written in 2002

Photo Credit: Quang Nguyen Vinh

This month, I’m posting a poem a day to celebrate the month the nation’s got reserved for the art of poetry. This poem was influential. I didn’t know I was experiencing depression at the time, but I was. It was my first set of dark days, and I was grieving a set of losses of young men, back to back. It was a time of questioning time itself. This poem proves to me that I was a writer. I needed to put pen to paper to sort through the growing understanding that tomorrow wasn’t promised, for them or for me.

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