For Redbeard

I have been trying to write this poem for two and a half years,

to avoid washed out scenes
of grief a la
Vivien Leigh's Blanche,
clutching perfumed pages to her breast- "poems a dead boy wrote,"
and the faux grit of hollywood heroin, the glamour
of an overdose.

The truth is I cannot know
how it was
after his last letter in June of 96,
so I fill with stock footage.
More than a year
before I could let myself see it:
Dave finding him on the blue velveteen sofa, laptop glowing
after 1 week's vacation.
His dog was hungry by then-
or had he left enough food?

I try to write a letter to his brother,
confessing my guilt,
my culpability,
wanting the absolution
of a death unplanned-
an empty dog dish.

An ex-lover
Has no place among mourners
who loved unfailingly.
After six months I should have forgotten him,
his poems about me and other things,
but I did not,
so I had to write
this part

Who can say if the closing is harder
or the ending
not what we expected?

Melissa Williams

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