Laura H.

When she called, I told her how it finally ended.
The only one to know the whole story, to have lived in it
For a while. I imagined her smoking out on her porch,
The twins sleeping inside, in a pseudo hippie skirt
Same harness boots as me, last of the big-trouble girls,
Up on her nighttime hillside in Charlottesville.
She is a good friend, wife to a good friend,
Brave foot soldiers in the war of the disease.
They are two of those who have come out the other side
Of long darkness wild and new and innocent.

I told her my dream of the war, how everyone we know
Will die, and that's all. But the disease is only the beginning,
There's money and sex in it and of course the children
And the only thing we can do is wake up each morning breathing
And fight as hard as we can in an endless struggle to live well.

I told her how when you lose someone you care about that much,
You have to focus all your rage against their memory in an
Attempt to kill whatever you carry of them in your heart.
She understood me. I told her everything.
I paced around the backyard in my own boots,
the streetlight in the alley shining above me against the cedar.

At the end she said, "I'm sorry Clay, that sounds terrible."
Which surprised me, because I never thought about
Any of it as being terrible, just events lined together
In the fabric of a story, but I heard for the first time,
Pure sympathy in that and I thought of her eyes and god bless
Or damn her one for somehow she remembers the exact date
Of every event, every conversation, the names
Of all the players, my therapist, the guys I work with.
She knows the Grove job and the shop in the basement
Where I break down every day. She holds, perfectly,
The whole of the story, and she said that to me.
Which is all anyone ever wants, really, which is
For someone to hear them, to understand, to say
"I'm sorry that happened. Everything is going to be okay."

--Oct. 22, 2008