It was Middle March.
The Amaryllis time,
Which for six days had stood unfurled,
The red redeemer of our kitchen window sill,
Exerting the terrific pressure of its flawless beauty,
Outwardly radiant, regardless of our unreflecting senses.
The felt, but unseen vibrations of its exquisite still life,
A down payment on the promise of Summer.
On the seventh day,
Its beauty burst and split,
Spilling its magnificence back
Into the unseen reservoir of immanent unbeing.
The hand of withering took hold,
Restoring it to an unremarkable place,
In the conditional domain. Leaving it
One more unblessed thing among the plethora
Of plain and unblessed things.
It was on that evening that news came
Of your unhappy departure.
I could tell from pitch and tone of Chrissie´s voice,
Even from another room,
That it was news of a death that was,
Close but not immediate,
Yet so clearly unexpected.
Only when she had hung up the phone
Did I get to hear that you had,
At dawn of that same morning,
Chosen cool oblivion over faithless sunlight,
Serene monoxide over frantic oxygen,
And opted for the grand exemption
From this chronic chiaroscuro.
The so questionable round of days.
As the ensuing days have since unfolded,
It transpires that your action has been met
With typical shock and disbelief by so many.
"Who would have suspected?", and
"He seemed fine when I last saw him", they say.
But, in fact, I would have suspected.
Though we had talked but little,
Almost, but not quite becoming friends,
I recognised you as a man, like me, for whom
The love of life was not a simple given,
Rather, it was something to be struggled for,
At steepening cost, and then more for the sakes
Of those you found yourself called to care for,
Than for anything it might accrue to you.
Though we were just acquaintances,
I suspect I knew your heart´s topology better
Than most who deemed themselves your friend.
No. What shocked me,
Though it took a while to rise distinct in thought,
Was that you were gone, and yet,
After everything that has happened,
In this my strangest year,
I was still here.
But let this not become about me.
For God´s sake! At least let this
Not become about me.
So how did it work for you?
I cannot keep from wondering.
Did a sudden crack appear,
Down the middle of your life,
Making what was barely,
But just so far contained,
Finally and patently untenable?
Or had you been planning this for weeks?
Did you simply wake that morning,
Knowing that today would be the day?
Or did you wrestle all the night before,
With some grey and murky Angel of the darkness,
Bloated with abysmal shadows,
Conceding resigned defeat at dawn´s first rosy finger,
At that hour when we are most vulnerable to false epiphanies?
Was there a moment of blinding, crystal logic?
A laser blaze of clarity? Or were you harried,
Eaten alive by Furies, only visible to you?
Did you turn to regard Hilary´s sleeping form,
Before closing the bedroom door, so softly?
Did you look in on Eleanor,
Drink in her image one last time,
Before stealing down the stairs,
And out into that lugubrious morning,
The tension between sempiternity and finality,
Stretching it to near unbearable transparency,
So you could see right through to the raw nothingness beneath?
Did you drive to the spot identified some while ago,
(I have identified my spot),
Or did you just drive until some threshold voltage was reached?
Did you attend to the shrill frenzy of birdsong,
Which must have been climbing to its most raucous,
Just when you got out to clip the two-edged hose in place?
Did the pearly light of that baffled sunrise impart
Any hint of poignance to the culminating instant when you turned the key?
Or was the beautiful, terrible World all but lost to you by this time?
Was there just a moment of relief, at release at last from anguish,
As final light smeared the vision from your eyes,
And you felt your blood go soft and dark?
Others may judge you, but I will not.
Those who have not been inhabited by darkness,
Often have inordinate opinions on these matters.
Those who have been visited by darkness,
But are deluded they have somehow triumphed over it,
Tend to hold still stronger suppositions.
But now you have become a proper friend in death.
And I am a comrade in that same secluded combat,
That leaves one all but husked and spent,
And puppeted through life by that cruel stranger
Who sits too much behind one´s eyes.
So I will not presume to judge.
To be sure, to those you leave behind,
You will have done unspeakable damage.
But for you, to do what you have done,
Unspeakable damage was a daily growing tally,
With never prospect of repayment.
To those left behind I would wish,
A ready understanding that yields
The gentle fruit of wise compassion,
And an easy passing into fond forgetfulness.
May the net sum of pain spared and pain given
Be balanced, in the end, to good.
To you I wish a smooth and even dissolution into Urlicht,
And that your disappearance should be like breath of wind,
That, having briefly stirred the trees,
Leaves no trace of its passing.
Copyright © John Ferngrove 2009