Sunday, February 10, 2013

For C.S. Lewis: Comfort Concerning The Loss of Your Wife

by CWK

A door slammed in your face,
and stood, stolid, and still.
You heard, echoing in the empty space
which she used to fill,
the sound of bolting and double bolting
on the inside. After that, only silence:
silence against silence revolting.
— and the finality was jolting.

Her loss left you lost
and frail; without her,
you grew pallid and smaller,
like a daisy after frost
which withers on the stalk.
The first week, you were so weak
you could hardly talk.
And you could only see, barely,
as through a dark glass, dimly.
You could not walk,
but like a drunk man, dizzy
from missing her,
you could only stagger
from place to place
and grace to grace.

You feared you would forget her:
the frame of her face;
the sound of her voice; her eccentricities;
the way her eyes shined with joy
when she was happy.

Single seconds passed like a year;
each day was, in it's own way, a small eternity.
You missed her, not as men miss women
but, like a drowning man, oxygen.

There was not, it appeared,
an ending to the grief;
it was ever at the start.
Not to be, it was clear,
a reunion for the pieces of your heart
which had been sundered and parted.
There was not — not there, not here —
enough suture in the galaxy
to sow up a wound
so wide, and deep, and great.
She left you too soon;
the doctor came too late.

You observed your grief, steadily
expanding in dark,
until it blotted out the stars,
and crushed you, without mercy,
like an ant beneath a mountain.
Famished by arid grief,
you scoured the world for a drop of relief —
but found: she only was your fountain.


Slowly, quietly, like snow-flakes
—like the small flakes that come
when it is going to snow all night
—little flakes of she and I —
our impressions, our selections, our affections —
settled down on the image of each other.

The real shape of she and I —
distinctly, and in union
— the shy secret shape —
was quite hidden in the end;
but such shape evinced
a change in us for the good, for good.
Apart, we were broken;
together, we began to mend.

In quick time, we two, became one,
and I began to see
that such blessed communion
makes of math a mockery;
her 1, plus my 1, was equal 3.

Now, there is no telling
where I begin, and where she ends;
her fingerprint is upon me, indelibly.
There was a communion of our essences,
by degrees — to the degree,
I feel her absence as a presence.


Last week, I found a single strand of her hair
in my old reading chair.
Afterward, I briefly went upstairs,
to finish some papers.
When I came back, an hour later,
I turned my study upside down,
looking for that strand of hair,
but it was no longer there.

I find myself fumbling in moonlight
for that single strand;
or else, some other strand of her.

I fear I have passed into a land
of shadows wherein there's only winter,
shorts days, and long nights,
with Christmas in sight.

I fear I'm losing her, and my mind.
I can't find.
I can't find her on the paths
she used to haunt.
I can't find her
in any spot on any map.
I look, and look, for her;
I can't find anything else to do.
I can't find.
I can't find anything to hang on to.


Once, near the end, I said, "Why must I feel?"
And she said, "Because you are real."
I said, "But, why must I feel pain?"
And she said, "Because you hope, and not in vain.
You feel because you are free:
because you love, and love remains."
She said, "Even in death, in death especially,
my love, love survives."
And I said, "But this is is killing me."
And she said, "No. It is proof you are alive."

Once, very near the end, I said,
“If you can — if it is allowed —
come to me when I too am on my death bed.”
“Allowed?!' she said,
“heaven would have a job to hold me,
and as for Hell, I'd break it in two to get to you."

"You will be there?"
"Yes," she said, "your eyes will close,
and you will pass into a restless repose,
much like sleeping,
and then, the stars will shake,
and you will realize, for the first time ever,
you are wide awake.
You will pass from Shadow Land
into a green and sunny clearing,
and hear a sound like church bells ringing.
And I'll be right there, and I will be weeping,
and I will be singing."

No comments:

Post a Comment