For a Friend: R. I. P.
It’s nearly five years since you left
heralded by the promise of sun
still beneath the December horizon
but soon to rise in full radiance
lighting the path of your journey out.
Wherever that out is, you are there.
The drama of grieving done, I
approach that same threshold
without fear, only trust, and mini-
mum curiosity, knowing I must work
while I have the light. Soon enough night
will come, and then no work will be
done. Is that how it is for you: Done?
Or are the stories of busy saints true?
Is the absence of clocked time a boon
that allows you to do what you will
for “hours” on end? Come back to the
desk, I tell myself. Pick up the pen
and work on the poems. Honor her
and her work by doing your own.
Above is a photograph of my son Patrick Robbins, taken in Brooklyn in 1995, by his college roommate Chris. With the ghostly image of the World Trade Center in mid-photo, it is a companion piece to the poem below.
Patrick has recently had his first novel, To Make Others Happy, published by 3 Wide Press, and it is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and select independent booksellers.
Photograph of My Son in Brooklyn, 1995
O beautiful boy in the photo, Twin Towers looming
behind you across the East River, crowded with boats,
vehicles pressing their way over Brooklyn Bridge
busy, busy, while the viewer’s eye can’t help looking
up with awful knowledge of what will happen six years
hence, when what was beautiful once comes crumbling
down, and there’s no hope of reconstruction of those
tumbled towers with their personal cargo burned
and crushed to a lethal powder that stings the lungs
of workers, who in their hurry to save whom they can
among the broken, inhale the death of countless others
desiccated, seeking to be borne away from calamity,
from catastrophe, from the end of life as they’d known it.
And you, my son, what of you embodying life
on the other side of the river, seated innocent
above the fray, a trick of the camera having you
eye those distant towers as if you were Gulliver,
and they a Lilliputian pair affixed to your right
shoulder. It’s all illusion except for the deaths
to come and the look of the young man you were
seated on a parapet above the river, eyeing
the future and what you thought it could be.
Who is it walking up the road,
the squall so intense I cannot see
for sure who pushes through the snow.
It must be our confused guest––
March Weather, who returns for the scarf
he left behind, then leaves and returns
again for his overshoes. Unable to tell
what he’ll need next, we leave the door
unlocked for his double mind.
March, You’ve Arrived
dragging behind you purple and green
bands of snow and sleet, then fog and rain
confounding pundits of all things weather.
A drop in temperature and barometer
succeeded by a yardful of robins in snow,
your energy the antidote we need for cabin fever.
We welcome your challenge to change,
to turn in place and face another direction.
I could hear him working his squeegee paws
Eee-ah! Eee-ah! Eee-ah! down the sliding
glass door on a morning of wet snow.
He wanted in.
His sound and marks are unmistakable,
and I am reluctant to exercise
my own squeegee and Windex spray
to undo those marks that show where
he has been.