The Gift

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


Peter said…
Wow. Has it really been nine years? It seems like only yesterday.
Collin said…
Yes, nine years. This poem is old and I fought the urge to revise it, because I to preserve the memory of when I wrote it the day of her funeral.
Collin said…
*I wanted to preserve*
I think it's ironic that she was worried about them doing something to her car to kill her.
Time, time, time. Thanks for posting the poem, Collin.
Lady Wolf said…
Oh, this is beauty.
and then it brings back the feeling, the deep kind of hurt that makes you scream with unashamed abandoned - even if you only scream in your soul.
Aren't we fortunate that she made us feel so many intimate emotions, as though we each had a personal relationship with her.
This is beauty.
Kate Evans said…
She did have a feline face. That's perfect, and beautiful. Thank you for this.

Popular Posts