~for Mickey 12/2019
The old man tells me of his friend (and I am his friend)
as we drive home from dinner. He falls to weeping
over the buddy he sang with in the church quartet
all those many years ago.
His friend died young, aged 48, and he stopped
singing then (at 72 he sings to me as we drive).
The pain of sad loss trembles from him, the words
and images fall into my lap for safe keeping — this
is a heart opening into hearing as I whisper the normal
“I’m sorry” and “I know it still hurts” because that is what
one does —
But I want say — “I am listening” and “I will put this
in a poem” Your heart — THIS big with love —
“I will save it forever for you in a poem.” But
I only whisper the normal solaces one gives,
watch his tears fall and listen as he shivers —
His frail voice singing a song about a Lighthouse
as I take his aged hand in mine
across the center console of the car.
In the night drive home after dinner
in the shimmer and melody on air
and the spring of tears trembling down —
The ghost of his friend rides with us
on through the dark night
as hands both living and dead
reach out and touch —
And a poem is planted, unfurls —
Grows into a new song.