For Paul

016_imogen-cunningham_theredlistIn the other place of keeping

afterward when door is softly closed

and light extinguished

where flowers bloom without need of sun

perfuming air with unseen stamen

at last you are unburdened, free of torment

we sit at oiled wood table

eating buttered toast with fingertips

you tell me of  real things

that time you fell into a river as

you reached for tires swinging overhead

just one more inch and you’d have been saved

from submerging with oily fish

and yet you say, it taught you

the value of sinking and how quiet

beneath the world can be

where creatures with opaque eyes glide past

watching you try to breathe

they called it a near drowning

you claimed second-sight

we shuffle our checkers, mindful

it’s your turn to win tonight


for Paul

you were a brother of sorts

sprinting ahead of jostling crowd

lean and bronzed by effort

your heart a flutter of machination

once you said, now I am old

and I laughed and reminded you

there’s so much time left

except you knew

and I did not

time can collapse upon itself

just as it begins so it can end

all the days we spent waiting for the next

better to live now and climb

that tree to sling rope and dangle seat

children long after us

will come to the river and watch

each others fear and then wonder

jumping into the void

and as you are gone

I clear away the plates and ready for the next day

not sure it will be free of rain

I hear you outside among the trees

you are laughing at me

for my fear of things I cannot know

remember, you say, it’s not about control

it’s about having the courage to try

I watch you walk toward the river

you are straight and lean again

no scars, no pain cross your way

I want to go with you but you have told me

it is not yet time

we’ll play again, be patient

master this moment

live now in the warm rush of water

watching overhead

moving clouds turning from blue to white

and then to grey


For Paul. You counted, and you mattered.


71 thoughts on “For Paul

  1. What a beautiful, reverent and compassionate tribute. I didn’t know him but I can tell from those left behind that his presence, his life had impact. Meaning. We know a man by the quality of his friends.

  2. I didn’t know everything that was happening to him, we began talking a long time ago, mostly about our-era stuff like films, books, politics, he was very smart, people didn’t know that about him they only saw a good-looking coach who was physically inclined, I knew he had heart-issues, we talked about that as we both do, I didn’t know he was that unwell physically though he was having a lot of tests. I also knew he had some type of delusion-disorder, wasn’t sure what was and was not true, but suspected some of it was a persecution complex, even so with the mental struggles Paul had, he always seemed to care for others and help them. I know he may have mistreated people also in his disorder, but his heart was good. I think he lost a lot of people due to his erratic behavior. It is another reason people need to be more compassionate around mental health, it’s always a struggle, never easy, and often results in premature death. My heart is heavy. Thank you C.

  3. I notice how much you mention ‘heart’ in your last reply. Paul had heart problems, but he had a good heart, and now your heart is heavy. It all comes back to heart, compassion and understanding. A moving tribute to your friend.

  4. Excellent observation my oracle-girl, you are right. It does all come back to heart. You have inspired me to write about that (how many times is it now? Will I pay you remit for those gems?) xo

  5. I’m moved by this tribute, C. I think you were a very good friend to Paul. I didn’t really know him at all, but I think I may know enough about you to know that this must surely be true. 🙂

  6. Sigh…the poem tugs at my heart. I don’t know him nor you but I feel connected through the poem somehow. Lovely!

  7. Dear Roslin, thank you so much! I believe all the love and emotion sent out into the cosmos he will feel or at least I hope so. Thank you for your compassion and reading this.

  8. Paul would have definitely reblogged this one.
    Life is such a paradox… it can be so tenuous and tenacious at the same time.
    At the risk of sounding redundant, this really is a beautiful tribute for your friend. ღ

  9. When you cross you leave your body behind so that suffering ends. I’m sure he is immersed in love at this moment. Yes when we are taken there is no set age for coming home. Stay well my friend. ❤

  10. A touching tribute which is especially moving to me having just lost my son two weeks ago. I can resonate with the pain you’re going through and send my condolences. And I do think it’s true, that they’re still here in spirit wanting us to be happy and remember the good times. And as you suggest they’re full of love, joy and compassion. But oh, I know how it hurts, how it leaves a void. Love to you during this difficult time.

  11. Oh dear, that made me cry, and it’s only 7am here in Oz & I need to go to work soon! An amazingly delicate yet profound tribute, well done & thank you, G 💙

  12. Dearest Betty, it’s not my pain my friend i just wanted to highlight Paul. I had no idea you lost your son and I’m so very, very sorry. It’s impossible to say anything meaningful other than i wish i could give you a hug because words won’t do. You are a lovely soul I would never wish you or anyone to go through something like losing a son, that just is not right, and i do not understand the world at times because of that. Please know i am sending you my love, humble though it is, and support and hopes you have loved ones supporting you through in some way though I know it is never enough. ♡

  13. Amazingly beautiful, C. I send my condolences on your loss. Thank goodness we have writing to express ourselves during times such as these. ❤

  14. You cared deeply and have good and bad memories. I think sometimes about my dead family members, what we did, just memories. I don’t make a habit of, My past is the past, not wanting to visit. I’ve written many post of the trauma in my life, it doesn’t feel like It’s me. I share for others, I’m 53 and worked most of my issues. I want others who haven’t gone that path to stop and think. I looked at several post written 2014 and will repost, there horrible but someone out there is feeling the same.
    Love you work.

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