it has been too long since i have devoted a sunday, writing you.
i have every letter you have ever posted my way. your handwriting, a nod to the past when penmanship was perfected, as if words could last forever.
i remember the nurse telling me how you would slowly form each letter,
the very curve and flow, meditation becoming words, to lull their way into the chambers of my heart.
perhaps today i will kneel before the large old chest
and return to your arduous offerings,
each letter folded like old withered hands in prayer.
prayers stacked like paper wings filling the chest,
all their fluttering ivory edges unlimbered to take flight.
hands that if opened will reach into me with an urgency i can hardly bare,
just a chance meeting.
i was youth incarnate.
drinking in life with pure passion, an open generous heart.
the white love of someone who had not yet truly suffered.
you were a life well lived, looking back.
i saw you first.
a cold shadow of grief flooded my heart.
i sat beside you as our ship moved through an endless blue horizon and took us
i turned wholly towards you, simply listened
with a willingness
that unleashed your soul.
we were on the Queen Elizabeth II
1985 world cruise.
journey of a lifetime,
unabashed, discovering the world.
a monument of grief
honoring your wife of fifty years.
an anniversary present, gone suddenly wrong.
you offered her the world.
only weeks to departure,
all her bright gowns slipped from their hangers,
to lie like frost beneath your staunch dark suits, standing at attention.
with her very last breath,
she unraveled the last gold thread of mystery.
unleashed her soul,
and flew with a gasp out of your life.
your suits could barely be extracted from their post of fidelity in the dark closet.
so you placed the gowns in the shape of your lover lengthwise
on the dormant bed to lure them out.
your hand caught in a torrent of beads and for one reciprocal moment
her scent touched you.
why not fold her nightgown between your dark suits? why not ask her `
which ties to take and how many socks?
for almost a lifetime she had been your answer.
so you boarded this enormous ship,
this gift of the world to the love of your life.
nothing left to do but stand at silent attention on the bow of a ship, watch for the
quickening edge of each continent as it slipped into view and learn the art of living
the porter could barely lift your trunk of deafening sorrow.
isn't this how all moments begin?
even the smallest, most common repetitions, like feet touching the floor of morning.
the simple act of beginning a day is rarely a forecast of what can inevitably
change you forever.
this day you knew one thing.
you would leave the house, this hollow rattle of silence.
you would close the door
leaving only finger prints, that would remain untouched until your return.
the driver would skirt you across the miles that lay from connecticut to new york.
every turn in the road superimposed with memories of your wife, so persuasive
she was already becoming pieces of the sky.
loss carved you into a spectator.
a holder of memories.
only your will moved you up the gangplank in the sweeping wave of happiness, all those
couples in line before you, after you.
the ship photographers strategically placed to capture a compelling bon voyage
they worked the crowd,
for these postcards of happiness.
you stood at full attention,
tomorrow your photo would be the easiest to spot.
your small forlorn hand
(the one that would have held hers)
shielding your eyes to the present,
allowing you to peer off into the distance
searching, always searching for something precious that was lost.
the black formal letters E L I Z A B E T H stenciled on the lifebelt
untangling your heart.
she was all and
and a day.