They say that you can find friends
They say that there is a pain in
losing these friends, like
someone dear to you just left forever
and that your part in their story is at an end,
like pens are rare in the world
and you’ve just lost yours.
The pages are blank,
the bottle is full of ink,
and the need is not sated.
Day in and day out and in the bosom of nights,
living in the deep and dark places between pages,
resting my weary shoulders on the stronger spines of books,
I have borne witness to the last breaths of friends
as finally the page arrived that ended halfway
sometimes with a Star beneath to signify the end
like a twinkling leading me to Nazareth,
a home without friends,
a life where they do not add to me
and there are only the memories of the stories they lived
crystal clear because I lived them too.
I have choked down the ball in my throat and
I have bitten back tears
at the disappearance of fictitious characters.
When Sam Gamgee and his two friends
watched as one of their own sailed
when their fellowship was laid to rest,
even I counted myself a weeper on the shore
and my cloak was just as heavy on my back
as I rode home.
One would imagine that such pain
would be mundane!
That the soles of my feet would be callused steel
against the sharp blades underfoot,
grass stabbing upwards
on hills rolling like pangs of loneliness,
rising, falling, far as the horizon,
angry like a tempest in the Aegean
that divided Greek from Trojan.
Did the skin of Helen of Troy smell of mangoes?
Did Tristan’s Isolde ever touch my cheek in love?
Did Dean Moriarty ever make me laugh up spittle, and
was Humpty Dumpty the only one who ever tumbled?
Did Sam Gamgee ever hold my hand in the face of
insurmountable odds, and did the Vampire LeStat
ever save my life?
Did Daisy Fay ever forgive?
Did Dorian Gray ever paint me strange sea monsters,
and did the wisdom of Meursault ever tell me that
I only love monsters because they do not exist?
Was it Montressor that showed me that nightmares
only exist either in night or in wild imagination?
Did any of them sing, or dance, or even breathe?
Are they dead, or do they live still
somewhere I cannot follow?
Perhaps they do, but if their life was fire,
I worked the bellows as I turned the pages.
Your forge was always your own,
its heart a searing glow of crimson and gold.
I can read myself up some new friends,
but where will I ever find another you?
Perhaps the mystery is the difference,
for no matter the depth of my relationships
with the friends I read,
the candle bows to the lighthouse
and I never could read you.