Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Everywhere I Go
If my poems get much shorter, they might disappear altogether. Or are they getting longer despite their brevity?
Everywhere I go, I find places words have been.
Yesterday I received a link to thirty-one pictures taken during and after a funeral in my old hometown. The email message also contains photographs of three graves of other classmates who died young, including that of a dear friend I’ve written about many times. I first visited his grave on a blistering hot day back in the summer of 1974, about three months after his death from cancer at the age of eighteen. The last time I went, I couldn’t find it. I thought it rather odd, until I heard him laughing. Rascal. And now, twenty-five years later, here it is again, right where it should be, the little oval image of him in his goatee and wig bleached by the San Joaquin Valley sun.
Looking at the faces of the people in these pictures — the suicide’s parents, sisters, and friends — reminds me that a few of my own dreams are buried out there in that little hillside cemetery. But if I went back, I probably wouldn’t be able to find them either. I’m not even sure I’d want to. Some, like these people I once knew, I might scarcely recognize. Others would reach out and grab me by the throat.
Love, hate, indifference. Everywhere I go, I find places words have been.
And if my life gets much shorter, it might disappear altogether.
April 7 journal entry added to Volume 23 of Songs and Letters.