How he was remembered

As is often the case, the family held one view, friends another.
It was here, through such subtle disparity, that the man was continued.

A son remembered him through one particular story,
A neighbor's cat was walking along their garden wall.
The son remembers the father saying something, and looking up
At his father's face but the sun was glaring down,
Making him a harsh silhouette, shrouded in screaming light.
What he said to the son,
Something about balance, or purpose of direction,
Remained with him always.

The wife didn't say much about him that day, but she didn't need to.
Everyone did the remembering for her,
And they knew this.
She was there with him all along. Her story was his.
Along with him went the need for her to explain him, what he meant.
This is normal, everybody thought.
Nobody questioned her graceful quiet.

An old work colleague talked colorfully of the two of them,
Standing at bars,
With loosened ties and battling opinions regarding
Contracts in Istanbul.
Their contribution was like a living smile,
The most insightful about him, the newest information.
It was devoured by all who heard it.
It was swiftly fused with existing memories,
A new, sudden effort to see him in yet another light
Even though he was gone.
This is normal, everybody thought.

The photographs were passed around
Like weed, like currency.
To be stared at and pointed at over
White tablecloths and dirty wine glasses,
Whilst underneath the table grandchildren in matching shirts
Flew aeroplanes and women rubbed their ankles
Beneath seldom-worn high heeled shoes.

A family member who had not touched a cigarette for five years
Now took that first amber drag
Whilst looking intently into the eyes of
The man's best friend of three decades.
This was where I would find out more, they thought,
Thinking about the nicotine as they attempted to concentrate
On the friend's disclosures.
Was he so very different to what I knew? They think,
Worried that the man they buried today
May have turned out to be a stranger.
But the cigarette helped.

As night came, most of the friends went away.
The family were left, looking so small,
Sitting with those who had travelled too far
Or drunk too much to leave that evening.
The children's aeroplanes were left pilotless under the table.
Pairs of heels left abandoned in the kitchen.
There is no need to remember anymore by this point,
And this is normal, everybody thought.

A guest's head hit the pillow,
Where, before the wine shoved them into a cloudless sleep,
They wondered if they had done him justice today.
They also began to wonder if they had done him justice in life,
But sleep prevented the torment of this.

The wife's head lay on the pillow,
Fully aware of what today meant.
She did not think of him as a memory, but as a husband,
And something she still loved with a bravery against death.
She stared at the ceiling until she slept,
Not once giving in to the temptation of looking at
The empty pillow next to her.

No comments: