The rain just started pouring down outside. I am so happy to hear it. I love rain–this is a rainy coastal place, and it has never yet rained too much for me. The sound of it brings quietness with it somehow.

The huge Book I was working on has been finished for a few weeks; now is when I start to find out what I was really working on. This is what I know so far:

A little over a week ago, I had an urge to search out some friends from my hometown online. I am not much given to nostalgia, but one of them kept coming to mind. I found out to my very pained astonishment that he died in March, a few weeks before the work on the book began. This was a very hard loss, as he was my first ‘brainiac’ crush from slightly afar when I was a teenager, then a dear friend for several years. We were out of contact, but I always thought of him as someone I would be old with. My best friend from high school died in May. And another dear friend and lover died in August. My last local boyfriend had already died at the end of January. I printed out my files for the time period in question, including the entire book (126k words) and read back the pieces that came around the pertinent dates. It was all there.

Over and over during the work–the ‘Working’ as ritual magicians would have it–I kept getting a sense of someone trying to get through. It became a theme, but then that tended to reduce to the Two, the Lovers, always trying to make or maintain contact against challenges. My hypnagogic meditations are full of faces and voices trying to reach through with a message. I’m not always pleased, as I cannot usually help. When I know of someone who has passed, that is different, and then I am happy to sing them over if the right song comes to me–if I haven’t already, unconsciously. This book contains a lot of Singing-Over.

At the end of March and the beginning of April, I was revisiting my love of the Pre-Raphaelite artists and poets, and rereading a biography of Gabriel Rossetti. My brainiac friend always reminded me of him; there was a distinct physical resemblance, as well as characteristics such as being able to tuck away huge amounts of food with no apparent distress. He was an accomplished classical composer, but he also painted and wrote poetry. (Huge crash of thunder–it rarely thunders here.) My intuition has always been such that I knew his departure would have left traces. Below is a poem from the day after he died. The day of and the day before are vivid too, but this is the best in all:

Till You Know Where You Are

He will stay close by and hold your hand all night, if such you need;

why must you ask it? Nothing but yourself prevents a greater speed

of clearly prescient lyric grace from finding you and taking you

to stranger places far than any nearer by. He will come through–

no matter where you look for him, or whether with a Crown or staff;

something in his deepest-sorrowed eyes beholds its epitaph

on water flowing over marble no one here will ever see,

and when he tears his gaze away, he’s nothing else to see but me.

I’m telling you, the girl you were still haunts these hollow hills, and lives

within their shadowed walls, an elf of grace their silence only gives

to music that she dance and dance within their close embrace long years

as if they had a measure and she’s pleasured to the point of tears

to be so found and reached as if the very stone would vibrate less

with tremors of a flat new world to come lest all this tenderness

between the ghostly dancer and the–someone holding out his hand–

although he’d rather die alone than live in an unholy land….

And then the fever breaks, and she is not alone, although she’s old.

In his other hand, he holds a volume of such tales–she’s told

she voiced them in delirium’s deliriously lyric song!

She’s hesitant to sing to him; she’s bound to get the words all wrong–

but underneath the Crown of stars, whilst bearing now a carven stave,

he sights the lightning right before his eyes and sends it set to rave

within its fair recipient until, as healed and whole as all

this hollow land for centuries of timelessness–Who hears this call?

This friend was also known for something in particular–he was a cigar aficionado. The second day after I learned of his death, after meditating in my bedroom prior to composing, I emerged to a hallway filled with the smell of cigar smoke. It’s no one else I know-certainly not in this non-smoking building.


About J

formal verse poetry and commentary at
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