Friday, September 21, 2007

Chester Alan Arthur

looks down on me with pity--
where once he presided
over your wild spins
on the tire swing,
he now casts his bronze gaze upon
the wreckage of my motherhood.

Your brother
my only living child
asked me if I were afraid of death
Not my own I said
and couldn't add: but yours.

Je pense en francais
en francais
je ne sais
que tu as passee.

Memere, je me souviens
le jour qu'elle me regarda
et pleura,
tu parle francais!
from the pearly horizon of her own death
she mistook me for a childhood friend--
c'est trop loin, ce pays la.


  1. Two days ago, I was cleaning my daughter's room in preparation for her visit for Yom Kippur. I found a photo of her as a toddler, and decided to frame it for her father's desk for fun. Knowing I had plenty of old frames, I began sorting through them for one to fit. The first suitable one I found contained a picture of Jesse, along with several friends, taken during their spring break trip to NYC during Jesse's freshman year at Michigan. It had been displayed on our piano, while we had a piano, then stashed in a drawer. I paused and studied the faces, each of them so cheery. I chose another frame for my toddler picture, and the Jesse group I brought out to my desk.

    News of Jesse's passing has filtered slowly among this now far-flung crowd--such news seemingly too important to be entrusted to email, and besides, no urgency remains. And so, it has been broken hesitantly, sometimes by phone, sometimes in person, mindful of timing--in my daughter's case, the friend waited until the morning after her wedding, but didn't tell another friend who had already returned home. That duty, it was carefully decided, would fall to another of their number who would be visiting the next month. The sense of shock is palpable. Jesse, despite his previous illness, had seemed indomitable.

    I would be glad to scan and send you the group photo--and I am sure there are others if you would like them. Thank you for leaving Jesse's blog intact, and for this one. My daughter and her friends have not yet found their way to Jesse's blog--they hadn't the link, nor the wherewithal to search for it. For myself, I appreciate reading Jesse's words--having that small reminder of him. I found myself smiling, nodding, thinking, yes! it sounds so like him (I don't know who else I expected it to sound like; I'm just glad it's quintessentially Jesse). Thank you, too, for sharing your words--I recognize the mother in them. Your loss is an unspeakable burden, surely.

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