The Absent Friend

I have a friend whose name I have forgotten.
Have forgotten even was a friend.
But now his face has surfaced in my memory,
I find that I can think of no one else.

The appellation ´man´ was something he always chafed at.
The gravimetric connotations,
The never culminating drama,
Of the term, in its most general use,
Was something he had long felt awkward with,
When he had tried it on for size.
His levity of spirit and great good will,
The loving kindness of his heart,
Seemed rather at odds
With such a blunt and stubby word,
So long appropriated by selfishness and ego.
But I realise now that he was a very fine man,
When you consider what can pass for such.

I caught his face a little while ago, in a crowd of things,
That may or may not have been people.
In that moment all breath and commerce ceased,
And the people-things froze in their somnambulist trajectories.
He was up a little way ahead, the only one still moving,
Warming everything in his gaze with his quiet but potent admiration.
Bestowing his reality on we semblances of shadows all about.
And every face took on a little of his face.
And every window took on their reflection.
And he was everywhere and everyone,
His smile stretched like wind across the sky,
Doing what he did so well.

In that act of recognition my spell of stasis broke,
And when the crowd resumed he was gone.
But I could tell that he had been there.
The people were more like people than like things,
Their mattering less lazy, more exact.
And things were less like shadows, more like things,
Their hardness more pristine and precise.

And now my days are filled with searching for him,
In places that we used to go together,
And places that I know that he would like.
And when I find him, I will ask him to be me again,
Like he was in the old days.

Copyright © John Ferngrove 2009