You approached me, hat in hand, with a simplicity. Your words fell out in accented syllables, “Will you write me a poem, please? For my wife?” I asked you if you were Spanish and how you managed to roll your “r’s” with such gusto. And you said, no, that you were Portuguese and corrected my pronunciation of your name (which I won’t put here for I can’t say it much less spell it). Your eyes were deep brown and swirling as they peeked over sunglasses and peered into my encumbered soul. Your hands speckled with age spots and your face adorned in gray whiskers to match the gray wisp of your hair. Age had come to you in grief.
In the whirl of market-goers surrounding you there was a solidity to your stature, a sureness to the way you held your sagging shoulders. I became some small moon orbiting the gravity of your experience with life. There was a hope that haloed you, a hope not televised or broadcasted and in your presence I felt the uplifting radiation of being surrounded by unending belief.
I asked about your wife, her name, how you met. And you told me she was dead, died from cancer more than a decade ago. And that somehow in your mourning you had found love again. You said “God brought her to me” and the way you spoke about God was beautiful, in the way only things said with foreign accents are beautiful. In your spliced English you told me of the village you grew up in: the red dirt streets, the chickens, your family. You told me how the boulevards were sterile when your wife died, how something you loved more than anything had fled the red dirt, not only of your hometown but of your heart, too. Then you spoke of the pain, the mourning, the aimless wandering on walkways you had known all your life. The creaking floorboards were silent and your children gone to America.
You spoke of transatlanticism and how over the static of a telephone your daughter had introduced you to her. Her the widow, you the widower. And you said you knew that this woman was an angel and that she was the new thing you loved more than anything. Grief, you said, will make you love even more. And so you took her to the opera and cried at the crescendos of song and held hands because together you had traversed grief and together you had overcome its dehabilitation. You didn’t love the grave any less, you just gained a new love for life.
And as you told me this tears tumbled from beneath your eyes and you touched the ring bound to your finger. To fall in love twice and with such hope each time astounded me. And so your monologue drew to a close. And so I clacked this remembrance into a poem with the eloquence of spoken story lost between the lines. And you grasped it gracefully as if receiving a family bible or taking communion or some other deemed sacred thing and then you were lost in the crowd and suddenly I didn’t feel so alone or pointless or purposeless anymore.
Clarise E. Reichley lives a transatlantic life between the skyscrapers of Denver, Colorado and the Burren limestone of Kinvara, County Galway, Ireland. Her work has been published internationally. Her piece Happy Harry was an Editors Choice in Teen Ink Magazine and she has appeared in UK/Irish magazines: OtherWise, Guaire, and Peeking Cat Poetry. She has been awarded a Regional Gold Medal by Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for her short story “Make Clowns Great Again.” Additionally, she published her own literary magazine, rhapsody. Every month she sends out a musing with her writings. Follow her work at clarisethepoet.com.