Your Name Means Ensnaring (Or, Gone As You Are)
For Rebecca Blumenfeld-Jones, who told me once that somebody might need to hear my writing – is that somebody ever you?
To the victor go the spoils,
and remaining can be victory
over the absence of another.
Your truth is a dissipated thing,
gone as you are. And we who remain
are left to guess, and worry, and wonder.
Are you truly gone from us,
and by choice? And in what sense?
Gone as you are, to places unknown –
Do you breathe there? (Do you still breathe?)
Do you stare at the night sky sometimes,
in wonderment? I do, and I wonder
after you. Gone as you are,
but your memory remains.
A vivid thing — you, reaching for
a certain ceiling fan switch. You,
the vision of which is indescribable.
Those eyes, a smile, the smattering
of freckles — a certain look about you.
How can one condense into words
what it is about you that makes us
light up, that made us jealous for
your attentions? You hated that,
attention. But your very absence
calls it to you, gone as you are.
If anyone could define you,
describe you, ascertain about you,
should it not be me? Was I
supposed to know you best?
(I can feel the wonder in others.)
But a neat label for you fails –
me and you. This writer cannot do it.
To suggest you here in ill-defined
phrases feels like love — but
would not love for you be silence?
Or would silence be your end?
Gone as you are, who can tell?
And if not me, then some other,
some other writing the history
of you that rings false to you
and me. I am not the victor here,
for how can a victor know loss?
But how can I let any other tell
your story for you?
There were three books,
I shall begin there. Mine,
Wuthering Heights and The Roof
at the Bottom of the World.
(See there? You’ve made me drop
an Oxford comma. What is love,
if not that?)
Which way would you go?
As though we’ve given you a map,
or a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure
novel. It’s a novel thing, a spoil
indeed, to presume so much power
over another’s choices. It was
Christmas Eve –but that’s not when
you left. Did you plan it, I wonder
constantly. Did you mean to
give me one last happy memory?
Family Christmas dinner and
trimming the tree. You dropped me
home, and drove off — it’s a maudlin tale,
like a child might tell of the night
daddy left. But it took you months
to leave, all unbeknownst to me –
and so how am I to tell the tale?
I called you while my grandfather
was dying, were you gone then?
You ran into someone accidentally,
gave her your number — did you never
mean to fall out of touch at all?
Have you freed yourself, are you
happy? Or dead, bound for the morgue
where we might at last see you again?
It haunts me. You haunt me, while I hope[,]
you live. Gone as you are, I may bade you
breathing. But false hope could be your
untimely end. And I hurry this poem
to its own conclusion, for, gone as you
are, there can be no end. But love,
and peace, and blessings, and all
the happiness that can be wished
friend to friend. You are a magnetic force,
gone as you are, no sense hiding
from that. You leave a hole,
but I leave a space — there will always
be a place, yours — so that you
might come back. Love and peace
and blessings and happiness,
wherever you are.
May 29th, 2014
Eureka Police Missing Persons Case # 3C13-6669