I’ve logged more experience than most with simplicity and the complexity you discover inside simplicity, minimalism and asocial behavior, endurance and landscape.
Here is the truth: I think some deep wisdom inside me (a) sensed the stress, (b) was terrified for me, and (c) gave me something new and hard to focus on in order to prevent me from lapsing into a despair coma — and also to keep me from having a jelly jar of wine in my hand.
Subscribe and Save up to 55%
after my mother’s funeral standing in the receiving line just
below the altar rail shaking hands with people I hardly knew
when Kenny a face I hadn’t seen in twenty years appeared and
grabbed me and hugged me so damn hard the wind went out
of me the pain so quick and hard I thought I might have snapped
a rib then pulling away he gave me a look that spoke from
down the years the inarticulate contrails of boyhood high school
the hovering interim before we get sluiced out into the waiting world
jobs relationships marriage kids divorce for me highs and heartbreak
of a different kind for Ken life yes with all the dents and deaths
we find our way around or through the passing of mothers fathers
along the way mine in this moment the parting shot that’s brought us
strangely back around where faces filter past Kenny’s among them
sorry sorry sorry and move on.
odd it must have been ten years next time I saw him I was on my knees
cleaning and trimming my mother’s grave when I sensed a figure’s tentative
approach and there he was Kenny who’d come back here today to tend his
family plot somewhere down the row a pleasant sunny day as we stood there
by the graves talking quietly as if it were the most ordinary thing meeting again
among these granite inscriptions of the dead a village in itself family names
we’d known since childhood their implicit premise of belonging lingering even
then like the remembered smell of burning leaves more so perhaps than when
the names had faces flesh and bone something tender almost delicate in the
way we spoke standing there older now no longer boys.
years again my sister who had known him through it all called to tell me
Kenny had been diagnosed with cancer I got in touch and we arranged to meet
but things went downhill pretty fast from there and soon he sent word sorry
he wouldn’t be able and like that dust to dust he was gone buried or burned
I never knew shit you’d think I would’ve followed up gone back and found
his family plot checked to see if a marker had been added in his name let the dead
bury their dead Jesus said I suppose still Kenny comes to mind more often than
he’d guess as now that jolt that look he gave me in the receiving line as if we were
going off to war or coming home from one and the way we spoke with one another
by the graves we might have been memorials ourselves figures graven as in stone.