Sometimes… They Can Return

Looking through my files this morning, I come across one I haven’t looked at in a long time: poems written by my friends.

There aren’t many. A few dozen at best. And the quality is irregular, written by amateur poets like me. But I’ve saved them because… well, because they were written by my friends.

I pick up an envelope in the file. It contains a letter from Jeff.

Jeff and I met in high school, shared an interest in weightlifting, art, philosophy, and women. We talked about these topics constantly, almost every time we were together. And we continued our dialogue for nearly 50 years.

We would be talking still had Jeff had not suddenly, bizarrely, and inexplicably died.

That was in late December 2013, a few days after he and his wife Susan had been with us at the Christmas party we host every year.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with G, my massage therapist, about – oddly enough – the idea of reconnecting with loved ones after death. She is certain it happens. If not during our lives, then “in heaven.”

G’s faith gives her a very evident sense of peace. She doesn’t fret over losing loved ones (or losing herself, for that matter) because she doesn’t believe it will happen.

“I’d like to believe in an afterlife and in contact ‘beyond the grave,’” I told her. “But I can’t. I just can’t.”

And yet, this morning, Jeff’s letter:

Dear Mark and K,

 Thanks so much for the wonderful Christmas party, made even better this year by having more time with each of you and the family and friends we don’t get to visit with enough during the year. Food, wine, and environments, as always, par excellence.

 Mark, regarding your new book of poetry – Susan and I took turns, each reading it completely before retiring! …I was relieved to not discover of myself a poem illuminating too obvious flaws; so much have we shared in experience and perspective for so long, I would find it difficult to determine exactly the borders of our “minds.”

 And then his poem:

Self Portrait

(Reflected in the Poet’s Eyes)

 The raft, shared reverie,

by squalls of fate we

sink or stroke.

In surface glass lagoon,

calm and abate.

Dismay… delight…

The sheen, my pate!

The coconut husks,

my supine body float!

From such repose

no need for boat.

Sail at leisure,

converse not rote.