The Memory of Love

As sleeping children

Place their arms

Around their pillow,

So we embrace our grief,

My fingers tracing circles

On your moist cheeks,

Your warm breath

Caressing my ear

With words like “it’s all right”

When clearly it is not.

 

Language cannot bear

The weight of our sadness

Our grief is inarticulate,

Torn from the heart,

The barely audible cry

Of a lone whale

Seeking out his pod.

 

Our son has disappeared

Without a trace,

An almost man

With stubble on his chin

Who loved funny hats

And Monty Python songs,

Who played klezmer

On his clarinet

And danced to gamelan.

Who wanted clowns

To lead his funeral.

 

What dark vision

Propelled him

Beneath the truck’s wheels,

We cannot say.

He left behind

No parting words,

Just an out-of-tune piano,

Sitting in a corner of our bedroom,

Unplayed

 

People greet us on the street

With homilies about “God’s plan”

And the “peace” of Heaven,

We don’t want him in a “better place.”

We want him here with us.

Yet all that remains

Is the memory of love,

Tentative and fragile

Like insect wings

Preserved in amber

And the half-completed imprint of

Cretaceous leaves on shale.

Our only proof of his existence,

Our only consolation.

 

(originally published in Muddy River Review)

 

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