Word Count: 500
I have no right. No right to ask anything of you, certainly not comforting words. Precious minutes should not be spent on someone you knew once-upon-a-time.
We re-acquainted quite accidentally, me with a sheaf of poems in my hands and you with time on yours. You read them all, enthralled. Intimated that my ugly subject had been made almost beautiful. Honored, you said, by this sharing; encouraging—urging me to pursue my art, publish, go beyond pastime. Brashly, I challenged you: exchange a poem-a-week. You were my link to the outside world, my reason for checking e-mails. You have been more than words on a screen, though we met face-to-face only three times in three years. You pulled me from the muck threatening to trap me, the mire created by enormous life-changes beyond my control In your gentle, easy manner, you showed me destiny could be in my hands. And it was. For a while, at least. Still, you were infinitely better than I at keeping that pact. When my silences grew too long, you wrote asking if I was okay—no pressure. Write when you can. Until then, enjoy my offering. My reply was always I’m fine, just me being me—a hermit, squirreling away in my home, my mind. Not actually depressed, merely a mild funk, overwhelmed by life. Don’t worry. Poems will come. And they always did, but so did life, obligations, a dearth of time.
When your silences grew longer than mine, I took on the guilt of failing to fulfill a promise, thinking it my fault. Then the mass-message. “There is no cure.”
This year I did not see you. Have not communicated with you for months. You Blog, so you have said. I have not read this, fearing I will see too much of what I have already witnessed, not wishing to go through that phase of my life again. Like a sullen, spoiled child, I want to demand that you write to me. Just me. But I do not have that right, my friend. I invited you to write five-hundred-words or fewer, not poetry, but pithy and compact. You replied that you concentrate on seventeen-syllables, attempting with Haiku to keep your compromised brain in order. These, you have not shared with me.
Now your wife is wearing the shoes I wore not so long ago. I feel I should reach out, offer…what? Advice? Commiseration? An understanding of what a spouse suffers? Yet I hesitate to reach out to Isabel, aging so gracefully, more beautiful than she was at twenty-one, knowing your sons will comfort her as my children have stood by me. Knowing also, that sometimes shared experiences are not welcome, when illness and death are concerned. The word “widow” falls hard on the ears, especially when one is still wishing for a different outcome. Sullen skies weep silent tears as your time wanes. I struggle over the ironic turn of events, and wonder, how can we create Haiku from life cut short?