Your face is a fan spread out before me
just as it has been, one way or another,
for the last sixteen years. I have been
an unfaithful lover.
I adored your shimmering skirt, your feline
face, upturned eyes under bangs.
I coveted your image, the sweet femininity,
the fairy tale.
I was your devoted slave at 4 a.m.,
exhausted and elated. I secretly wished
you had married me instead.
It was one of the last best years.
I remember being twelve
and having this terrible crush.
But it went away, as all crushes do,
packed away in a box for future remembrances.
For two days after your death,
I searched desperately for these things,
the artifacts, overcome with the irrational
fear that if I couldn’t find them, all would be lost.
But you are lost.
Now I have them, all yellowed clippings
and dog-eared books.
On my lap are the pictures of my childhood.
You are still nineteen and innocence radiates,
but in 1981 I had no concept.
We were both still untouched, unscarred.
But I know you were not that in the end,
and I know I will not be when I die.
The house is full of candles now,
because any other light seems unnatural.
I have collected more images of you in death
than I ever owned in life.
I pour over your face, marking passages,
seeking out lost time.
I never knew you, never met you,
sometimes never gave you a second thought.
But I am you.
We all are in some way, living and dying
in a light less luminous, hidden in plain sight.
What you craved most. It’s such a simple thing,
the only gift I would have offered.
The bell tolls every minute
and half way around the world,
the darkness gives way to dawn.
--CK, September 1997