Tai Chi Straight Sword Love

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Janet

(This isn't really the title, but I don't have a name for the poem. It's not my best one, but it's my catharsis. Dedicated to my brother, Ronald, and to Janet: R.I.P. 18 Dec. 2002)

The sounds run
ahead of me, reaching
you before I. Smile
faintly. Greet
lightly. Comments
exchanged - anything
to delay what must
follow.
Thoughts
swim,
speaking of
words
I may
form.
But they that
exist only
in abstraction
do not do
enough
to convey.
Shift gears - refocus.
In joking tones your
voice returns -
playing off a recent
failure
with optimism
that is your
trademark.
While my courage
lasts and I spew
out
"Janet
died."
[Pause]
"Liz, you're
not
serious.
Please tell me
you're
kidding.
Please..."
[Pause] Blurred gaze
as I watch
you collapse from the
inside.
Expecting rage.
Expecting
anger.
But instead
I
force myself
to listen
in pain
to
your pain.
"I could have sworn
I loved her
as
a friend. So
why am I
not
crying?
Why
am
I
not breaking
those vending machines like
I want
to?"
Because you're as numb
as I am. Inevitable
guilt forms
in both
of our eyes.
I am unused
to
your brokenness, and
your lack
of action, my
lack of comforting
words. You
don't
want to respond
to anyone
but me
because you don't
want
to have to explain or
you would
have to admit
and solidify
that space
where she
was.
Asked what you
should do; asked
what I will
do. Shrug
and shake the
head.
Does it matter?
I didn't know
her as
well
as you. So
as you
hug me tightly
as a
sister
who shares your
grief
I wonder whether
I have
as much right
to emotion
or if
my presence
is an
intrusion
and my
numbness
a falsehood. "If
anything happens, just
know that
I love
you and
I would
never want anything
bad
to ever happen to
you."
Because you
couldn't
save her.
And I can't
save
you from killing
yourself
from
the inside.
Was
I right
and why did
I
have to
be the one to tell
you she's
gone?