IN MEMORIAM S.J.H BY ADAM OYSTER-SANDS
I sing to him that rests below
-Alfred Lord Tennyson
Not all poems are about death and the loneliness of existence,
At least I don't think they are.
Because I've looked down on a valley of granite
And was silenced.
Not all poems are therapy for a soul broken by time and expectations,
At least I don't think they are.
Because I've sunk my head in a glacier fed river
And felt infinity in my smallness.
Sometimes honesty is more important than hope.
Scott said there's life beyond the one we already know,
Then he floated away from us forever.
And I pray to a God I don't believe exists
He found at least as much as he gave.
Not all poems are about death.
And I listened to that one song about the dream at least fifty times in a row tonight And each time the air was pulled from my lungs like thread from the edge of an old sweater relegated to the moths and the back of the closet And I imagine the sweater as relieved after too many sessions holding you tight against the bitter winter winds that pierce through everything built to withstand it like the ants that crawl from an unknown and unseen dimension across my kitchen counter every morning impervious to tools and traps designed to thwart their forward progress Even now when I sleep I tread with care you sang through an accent so pure and so think it fills the space in the back of my mouth And it's been years since you left But I never moved through the invisible barrier between the stage and bar where I held a whiskey in my hand and witnessed your existence Now I can testify to those who missed it And tell them what you told me I can tell them about life beyond And maybe let them listen to that song about the dream at least fifty times so they too can feel their breath get pulled like thread Then they will realize there are ghosts all around like we knew as children but laughed off as we collected degrees And sometimes the ghosts of strangers sit next to us late at night when our mind is a mess Cause you are sitting next to me now and I don't know what else to do but let the back of my mouth fill while the refrain plays over and over I lost count of how many times this song has played but I think I'm drowning And you don't know me And I only know your songs but think that means we are friends And your absence hurts almost as much as the absence of the ones I once physically held before their bodies gave themselves back to the soil And the sweater is almost unraveled now cause I can't stop pulling like the end is the answer to the splintered tree of a road I've stumbled on without even realizing I was walking But this is actually about floating and water and movement of time Cause we're taught that rivers represent the passage of timeAnd you floated away down a river And I'm not sure if you made it to the sea or if you wanted to get that far But I've been in a river and felt the clarity that comes with the current This must be what Jesus felt like everyday as he looked on the crowds that gathered And I know Jesus is just a Spanish boy's name but as a kid I saw ghosts everywhere and believed Jesus was something more And tonight you joined me at my dining room table and interrupted my evening like the time I called my mom at two in the morning because I had a nightmare and needed to go home And like her then you don't judge me now And maybe I'm too old to be fixated on something like this Like you But there is more than one way to be cut You are still pulling my breath like Jeff pulls tears from my eyes the way I think he once did for you How strange it is to be anything at all One summer in college I pulled wire in triple digit heat and my muscles burned more than my skin No one ever talks about the pain endured by the one who pulls So maybe it's there tonight when I sleep I'll tread with care You sang so much about the end
But not all songs are about death