Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: If I Could Stop Time

Somehow I knew Sunday Scribblings would allow me to enter into this subject.

Those who know me personally think I am an only child. But that’s not entirely true. My father was married for a brief time before I was in the picture and had a son. After he divorced, his ex did not let Terence, my half-brother, have any contact with my father. So I grew up without a sibling. And while I knew of him growing up, we didn’t meet until our early 20s.

Earlier this week, Terence passed away. I didn’t know him very well, probably hadn’t spoken to him in almost 15 years, so the loss, while tragic, does not bring a great sadness to my heart. It is what it is, I guess. Rather than going into a lot of details, here’s a poem I wrote for Terence.

No need to express your sympathies—I’m fine, and I appreciate it. If you’re stuck for something to say, just say, “Nice poem.” Or answer yesterday's Q of the Day. As for Sunday Scribblings, if I could stop time, I don’t know if things would be different. But, the post gave me the opportunity to think about Terence, and for that I am thankful.

Also, I can’t help but think, “Now I am an only child, again.”


For Terence

When a man dies,
you must lay your ear
to his chest, hear the
non-beating of his heart,
be drawn in by the silence
that bonds you to this moment.
Even if you have nothing to say
even if you do not know the deceased
even if you never loved each other,
lean in closer. Closer.
Lower yourself into the casket.
Slip your hand under his shirt.
The last touch of this world
is bare.

18 comments:

bb said...

There is an eerie efficiency to this poem, January. I will have to come back and read it again.

love to you x

January said...

Thanks BB.

Laini said...

That's beautiful. I love the last lines. Love them. Poignant without being sentimental.

Kamsin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kamsin said...

I have a half-brother out there who for various reasons I do not know, and who knows me even less (I remember him as a little child, but he was too young to remember me). So your post made me think of him and possibilities I do not want to think about. When I tell others how many siblings I have I do not count him, although he is still there in the back of my mind.
This is a great poem. Thanks for sharing it. So much unsaid lurking behind what is. "Broken" families seem to throw up these situations which don't quite have a category in our emotional resevoir to deal with them properly.

Catherine said...

Lovely poem, especially the ending. "Even if you do not know him" reminded me of the Donne quote which our minister read today, which starts "No man is an island" and ends "do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."

Michelle said...

The worst tragedy seems to be the beginning of the story. So much of how people behave makes no sense. Your poem is intense.

Bug said...

I also love the last line. And your personal situation is such a rich, intense one. I'll be thinking about it.

chiefbiscuit said...

It reminds me of my brother in law's funeral at the beginning of this year and seeing him in his coffin. Such emptiness and silence, it hardly bears thinking about. You have evoked that feeling extremely well.

GoGo said...

Most definetly a nice poem. I like how you captured the moment. It gave an essence of macbre, and yet a sullon respect for the whole process.

DJPare said...

Nice poem. :)

And you are not an only child again. You have all these writing/blogging brother and sisters!

ecm said...

Beautiful poem, beautiful tribute.

bostonerin said...

Breathtaking.

jillypoet said...

I really like this poem! (as usual with your stuff!) It seems almost like magical realism--laying your hand on the bare chest of a person in a coffin. I wonder just how many of us have wanted to do just that? So well done! PS: I, too, have a half-brother who I did not grow up with. Seems like there are a lot of us "halfs" out there. My son knows him as uncle Gary, but I wonder when he'll start to wonder why we never hang out with him, or do Christmas with him...you know? Oh, and I am an only, too! And I always had the "well, not exactly an only" thoughts in my head when I talked about being an only.

Anonymous said...

Jana,

You are certainly not an only child again. You have at least one sister and two brothers who love you dearly.

Great poem.

-Special K

jerri_farris said...

Lovely poem. Such economy of words with great meaning.

January said...

Thanks, everyone, for the kind words.

my pink sky said...

hey, we're neighbors (and fellow aquarians)! and i love the picture your profile paints...beautifully put.

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