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Untimely Silence

Most folks I loved
died when I was in my thirties.
Not just people,
but our San Francisco bohemian mecca lifestyle,
our 365 days and nights celebration
turned into an epidemic of waiting
and watching
and mourning our losses,
wondering about possibilities of survival.

What could remain for us,
for me,
for this place?
What could become my purpose
our purpose
for any lonely future of diaspora survivors?

My closest friend,
a happily married matriarch
with two adolescent children,
died of breast cancer
when I was in my early forties.

Perhaps this was my final straw.
I have not reconstructed any friendships since.

This reminds me of my maternal grandfather,
who lived into his eighties
but as his quantity of years continued
his quality of celebrated convivial life shrank
through loss of two wives
and all their friends,
his generation of neighbors,
and then his hearing.

He told me
not long before he passed
he was not sure
if his loss of hearing was a curse
or a blessing,
prohibiting him from cultivating renewing friendships
only to be lost yet again.

My own hearing is not perfect
yet I seem unwilling to listen
for any more friends,
loved ones I could no better afford to lose
than those already gone.

Yet still I wonder
about therapeutic reasons for my survival.
As fertile celebrations fade to dusty memory,
my capacity to comprehend why I still breathe,
yet my generation of intentional families has long passed,
shrunk to incomprehensible mystery
as did my revered grandfather’s hearing.

The best I can hear,
through this epidemic distance,
I rescued by adoption
then by love
four hurt children
no one else wanted,
and each continues teaching me how to love hims and her,
when I listen well,
in their distinctive needy ways and broken means.

Yet even here
with these final four
I night sweat in guilty worry
about how they could best thrive
when I can, at last,
no longer hear them,
nor they me.

Most folks I loved
died when I was young,
leaving me to wonder
severed prospects for survival.

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