The Friends I Loved and Left Behind
After Elizabeth Bishop
A farewell to a dear friend is never enough.
We must bring him flowers, songs with
spinning words and good wishes.
We must bring a shadowy thought
of love that make us both happy.
We must convince the ghost that dances
around his grave to be kind to our friend.
He did so much.
He did plant a tree and had a son.
He did in part save his country.
The worst time, I thought, was to leave
one of the friends behind,
there in the dried mountain
his heart was destroyed, his eyes open.
How can we write poems after that?
The friends I loved and left made signs
with their fingers in the fading skies.
They left me here in a brown earth
so I can weep a red spot that leads
to a hollow moon faced to the sky.
For the son I never had, I lend some green tears in this land
For the son I never had I share some fuchsias opening.
No matter wherever he is I bathe him and make his skin glide
No matter whatever language he speaks I read a lullaby when I put him to sleep.
for the son I never had I share some lilacs in Spring
For the son I never had I dwelt on in misery every night
No matter what good news the world strikes I could see sweet skin and closed eyes
No matter mine and my husband’s sins are forgiven by the creator, my sorrow never heals
For the son I never had I share some red roses from my yard
For the son I never had I chant this dark song tonight
No matter we have crossed the oceans in search of peace,
No matter what we did to forget, he stands more alive than ever on the other side
For the son I never had I share cactus in my dark head
For the son I never had Oh God have mercy on me.
Mariela Griffor is the director of Marick Press. Her books include Exiliana (Luna Publications) and House (Mayapple Press). Her translation of Canto General by Pablo Neruda is forthcoming from Tupelo Press. contact