44 Lines about 22 People

In the spirit of “88 Lines about 44 Women” I’d like to offer a small memorial to a number–22 to be exact–of people that I have lost along the years. Honestly, these lines are not brilliant, and some of them are not even good, but I have tried to communicate at least one essential element of each person, or my relationship to them. In a very clumsy and earnest way, I am trying to pay all of them a small tribute. The rhyme scheme is too Dr. Seuss and I should have gone for ABABCDCD instead of AABBCCDD – but you live and learn.

Enough dissembling! Here then, are 44 lines about 22 people:

Beth was a future never to hold / a deep Irish autumn of roses and gold Emily like a shadow on a bright cloudy day / sometimes so very there and sometimes far away Chris was the genius I so adored / so cool in a tux, with girls so assured Justine’s trembling heart held fast in my mind / like a glass horse that’s fallen softly behind Scott brought the summer, the lake and slow nights / a childhood long lost to harsh grown-up sights Juliet stole my breath with a glance / and I still cherish the thought of that one single dance Jeff kept me sane, offered friendship and grace / as we struggled to find our very own place Christina’s embrace brought the feeling of home / but our time was mistaken and I left alone Clay seemed so stolid and staid / but oh the merry pranks that we played Alice and I on a spring and soft day / she helped with the words I just couldn’t say Jon was the jokester all laughter and glee / who kept me from taking me way seriously Laura the dancer with deep and dark eyes / her silence was harder than other people’s lies Josh shone bright with good-will and bright cheer / making life so much kinder each time he was near Tamar far too young, but a flame of desire / under moonlight in Providence, a river of fire. Richard brought riches like Foucault and Lacan / set me to seeking and turned my mind on Norma was a actress, and older by far / But such great fun was that night in my car Jen long and blonde, a willow tree still / our friendship falling broken from a weathered windowsill Jen’s voice just like honey, dark and so wild / but a heart full of love like an innocent child Jen brought my blood to a fast beating pace / in hallways and corners her sweet hungry taste Nick was all comics, music, chaos and books / unabashed and unafraid of other people’s looks Nancy and I shared such innocent bliss / for all of four days we held hands and we kissed Jacqui, my first and though she taught me despair / she’s integral to me like lungs needing air

These are certainly not all the people I miss, nor all the people I have lost along the way. There’s Gail, Tracy, Rob, Sarah, Joy, and Steve to name a few. And then there are those who are still in my life, people like Diana, Jay, Natalie, Sandro, and Josh. I’m positive that there will be other tributes to friends both present and past. But this, for now, is all I have to say.

Or, rather, almost.

Because then there is Anne. A best friend for many years, a lover at times and a girlfriend at others. Our relationship has, seemingly, dissolved. Mutual fault, mutual blame. Far, far too complex to even attempt in two lines. I miss her and still love her and still believe that somehow we can find each other. We may never be able to go back to the way we were, but maybe we can find another path, another way to care for and support each other. To be friends. I hope so. Anyway, for all you curious folks out there, most (but certainly not all) of these people come from my time at South Kingstown High School, the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and the University of Maryland.

On this day..