Friday, August 17, 2007

he's right about the abandonment

Those of us who revolved at a remote distance from Liam—I never knew him well; we'd talked no more than ten times at most, emailed even less—are now swift in the eddy. Late into the night, toss, turn, toss, turn, I dizzied mostly in the terror of whatever his consequences may be (see 8/16 post), but I was also saddened by the what-ifs, fixated on the outlandish alternatives. I, all windows open to the waking echo of confusing strife, looked back at the let-downs we all may have been to him and, likewise—now or before—he to us.

Several friends have written saying they're angry. Or they're disappointed. I can't say I feel either of these things. There's almost a blank acceptance where these feelings ought to be. Who can presume to understand the suffering of another? We can write to ape it, build art in deference to it, probe it ruthlessly for some sort of statistical relief. We can get grand about the comprehension and capture of these things, but psychic pain, pain of the body—these, along with death, are of a province that remains impassive, solitary. And they always will be. Despite that, I miss Liam in a way that isn't justified since I was never really in his world in a complete way, not even secondarily.

I know it's indulgent to insert thoughts into the space Liam occupied among us, but I do imagine he'd lack patience, perhaps, with whatever personalized responses I might be tempted to have. Liam prepared me--and anyone else who has been paying attention to his poetry--for this eventuality. The poem that follows suggests only that we face it. That's a very different statement than suggesting we need to deal with it and move on. One never moves on in such situations, however remotely she stands from the sadness. She can only move in. Face that abandonment, after Eliot, and now after Rector.

The Remarkable Objectivity of Your Old Friends
by Liam Rector

We did right by your death and went out,
Right away, to a public place to drink,
To be with each other, to face it.
We called other friends - the ones
Your mother hadn't called - and told them
What you had decided, and some said
What you did was right; it was the thing
You wanted and we'd just have to live
With that, that your life had been one
Long misery and they could see why you
Had chosen that, no matter what any of us
Thought about it, and anyway, one said,
Most of us abandoned each other a long
Time ago and we'd have to face that
If we had any hope of getting it right.