A Poem for Anne
I knew of you first through your first daughter. She spun her love for you with words, human and herculean. She spoke of your resolve not to crumble with her as evidence; lesser women have torn their selves down for less. She thought she was telling me of her mom. I heard in her words, matriarch, a queen dowager who mothers because she must. History doesn’t deserve you because men look for façade and celebrate cunning. When you were at the then Federal Ministry of Education building, opposite Bonny Camp, you met my mother in passing, she met your daughter, and you met me. This is wishful fiction because children are invisible, so adults only remember adults.
I don’t know. I don’t know. If there was ever anyone I drowned myself in perfumes for, if there was anyone I felt tenderness for despite hard looks and tough words; if there was anyone whose obstinacy tickled me in private to tears… My tears today don’t come with even a giggle; they hide behind a partition of the only son-in-law you had, they snake their way behind the creases of my smile, just beneath the skin. I have no sense of how to love you outside of your children now. I have no burden greater than wondering what could have been. I console my father because he saw in one day what I had heard throughout my courtship. I feel like a crumpled piece of paper that must still be read aloud, creases and all. I see thorns that I once would grasp with decisiveness.
Your fight is over, your smile is frozen, your sense of sensibility is a monument to me. No matter how long or far I drive in life, you’re always a glance at the rearview. I was asked to write for your memorial so I shed my tears here. In these words they cannot see me cry. They cannot see the gossamer of my memories of you and tarnish it with idle opinions of ‘’How a man should mourn’. I have your daughter, but really, she has me. She hurt me with a pleasant memory of the wedding reception you cheered me on as I gyrated to James Brown and other people of your era. The music of your youth remains my private playground I didn’t remember your cries
“Go, Remi! Go, Remi!. ” Until she told me I didn’t remember why my heart hurt, its broken shards cutting into me when I remember you & breathe. Thank you for exquisite pain like this; it is reserved for you and your kind, known only by being known & no other way. You paid your debts. Accounts are settled. We move gracefully, decisively, honestly & strong.