Monday, 11 May 2009

sonnet xvii

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

(Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda)

a much loved and respected co-worker unexpectedly lost his wife last night. the size and impact of the ripples of her loss - the void her departure has left, and his grief - were so hard to comprehend or size up today.

what was plainer - and strangely shocking - to see instead, was the disbelief, the shadow of an as yet uncomprehended grief that slowly crept across co-workers throughout the day.

two co-workers in particular - strong, positive women i respect and look up to - separately confided how determined they were to maintain their exteriors and power-through the day, as we softly worked out the practicalities of our leader's absence... as tears welled up in their wide, searching eyes...

there are so many memories, so many times, that flooded my mind today. times when he fondly regaled us with stories of his wife from their long and very happy marriage; all those countless times when the phone would ring around 5pm and we knew it was his wife, calling on cue; he'd ask "so what's for dinner" and we'd quietly chuckle at their endearing old married banter...

she'll not call again.
i'll not wave him out of a meeting again for that call.
we'll not hear him ask "so what's for dinner tonight, then?" again.
or "how's the boy?"

we'll miss someone we've never met.

we already do.

we'll tenderly mind and console a dear co-worker - distanced by the rungs of the career ladder - finding ways to deliver the impact of a hug through the mundanity of greyed, everyday, officed, achingly English gestures.

thinking about it, grief seems an ambiguous beast. where does it begin? how does it end? what ends does it serve? what profit from grief? where does that brutal curve lead?

i honestly think the only certain thing - as in everything in life - is love. and that only love can help. it soothes, slows, eases, wraps.

love; from one creature to another.

maybe not a silver bullet, but a slow, steady, purposed course through the bleakest, most brutal terrains.

(i wanted to post this as a mark of respect to someone who i'd barely brushed paths with. just a small, quiet post, to mark a moment, to send my small, anonymous love into the void, charted to those reeling from this loss.

i read this poem at the wedding of two dear friends a few years ago, at the beginning of their life together. once it came to mind tonight, it struck me as being just as fitting to mark the end of what seemed to be a very happy and long relationship; a marriage that was a quiet celebration of solid, understated love.)

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