Last November I posted this poem, “Fare thee well, my bitter friend”, and called it a draft, something I had tinkered with for a few weeks but did not feel I had completed.
Well, here we are some months later and I still think it’s incomplete. But I can’t seem to make any additional progress on it.
I believe that stems from having burned the inspiration during its preliminary development. Now that I look back on it, I can’t seem to find the same rhythm, the same depth and clarity of thought, or the same emotional landscape wherein I first discovered this elegy.
And it is an elegy, by the way. I became vexed with its sentiment following the second anniversary of Derek’s death last September 7th. The verses stemmed from remembering all he suffered through years of failing health, the many betrayals by his family and him having to face it without them despite their clear knowledge that something was terribly wrong, and those last dreadful weeks of his life as who he was vanished and his broken body and mind rapidly followed.
Yet it spilled from me in fits and starts, bit and pieces, all in a few weeks, then it halted on the draft table like so much unfinished business. Each time I returned to it, I felt disassociated, as though I was reading from someone else’s thoughts, as though my own hands had been used by another mind to give form to what seemed so alien to me.
I read it now and feel what I felt then, and I remember why I wrote it. Nevertheless, I don’t know that I’ll ever feel it’s complete. Perhaps it was meant to be this way, like his life, a text forever partial, inadequate, and lacking, something left to future generations as inchoate and prematurely ended. Yes, perhaps that’s it after all.
Just as the days close upon themselves under midnight’s shadow
Warned, I did, of countless dangers wrought of younger’s callow
Fare thee good and well, my bitter friend; unto self be gone
Beseeched in heartless rending that which cannot be withdrawn
Littered by the bones of other ones stands the road of love
Undone by magic, mysteries, moments; none we can know of
Bereft; consumed on altar thine; appeased by angry greed
Climb up; cast down; reach and weep for desperation’s need
Apart, together journeyed for years yet progress know we not
Our hearts cry loud in lamentation for what our time has wrought
Fear we know; hope we dream; shed blood in sacrifice
Nature’s anguished, cosmos angered, passion no longer will suffice
Foresee this ending final day in life and death writ upon our souls
Sailed upon waters still, our ships now lost, our torment consoles
Rest eternal in death’s embrace and pain yourself no more
See upon the endless ocean standing your final sandy shore
In silence, loud and pressing, hear your voice and singing loud
What’s left behind obliges not for those cloaked by darkest shroud
This we know at life’s goodbye: living’s extinguished light
Diminishes no more and returns to you all your sources bright
Head resting upon the bed that encloses this, your last hour
Small hands embrace fate’s hourglass to see you finally flower
Gasp not at rest to see the tears of those witness to your demise
No obligation have you; now release yourself from cries
Fare thee well, my bitter friend, and your self be once again
Memory’s keep shall hold us all embraced, remembering when
Your stature tall, wit cunning and sharp; nurtured by simple life
Be gone from this world, be burdened not, and carry no more strife