I have lost your poem.
I have lost your poem the way I lost you that Thursday morning
I have failed to fix your eulogy into the world and it has slipped from my grasp the same way your breath slipped from your lungs, and I am so sorry my dear
I hope it brings you comfort to know that I equated your loss to all the wealth of the libraries of Alexandria
the profound knowledge of beauty needlessly lost
and all that remains are a few lines, a faded echo
what knowledge has been lost along with the color of your eyes?
what wisdoms packed in the sand under your tongue?
I imagine them emeralds, your eyes. Perhaps polished amber
and perhaps it is fitting that the poem I wrote you has burned into vapor
like the libraries of Alexandria.
Rest well, my dear.
Heh. Okay. Here’s the thing. I realize that it’s strange that so many of my autobiographical poems are about kittens dying–but I think it kind of sums up my values. Apparently the kind of pain that makes me need to process grief through written word is the kind that is profoundly pointless.
Alexander was a three-or-four-day-old tabby kitten that a client found under a bush and brought to us. He was starving; his mouth was packed full of dirt he had tried to eat.
He was also the most beautiful cat I have ever seen, out of hundreds and thousands of cats. OR, I should say, he had the potential to be the most beautiful cat. His stripes were a rich mahogany I have really never seen anywhere else. I had to check his gender multiple times because I just couldn’t believe that a male cat could have colors like that.
V and I were going to take turns taking care of him, but the trauma and starvation turned out to be too much and he died within three days, despite her getting up every two hours to hand feed him. He died still a tiny slip of a thing, before his eyes had even opened.
And it’s not that we’re not all used to losing them. We knew that he was too young, too malnourished. But I think on top of the normal disappointment of losing an animal there was also this deep and profound sense that we had not been able to save a piece of potential beauty–like being unable to restore a piece of art from the masters. It was like watching a Klimpt painting burn.
I was thinking about him in bed about an hour ago (4am) and I began to compose in my head a poem that compared my inability to save him with the loss of the knowledge contained in the libraries of Alexandria, and it was poignant and beautiful and perfect, and I started crying, and eventually resigned myself that I better write it down before going back to sleep…and as soon as I started to type it out, I felt this sensation of frustration and realized that I had processed it too much and it was gone.
This has happened to me before–when I’m brainstorming fiction, for example, I have to be careful not to actually script it out verbatim in my head, because then my brain decides that because it’s been written it’s been taken care of, and deletes it–then when I try to write it down later, it eludes me.
In a way I guess it is kind of poetic irony that the poem I wrote would illustrate itself in its own demise.
But I’d rather have the original poem.
That poem would have made grown men cry, dammit.