I spent a long time thinking about what I should do —
should I phone, should I write, should I send a card?
I decided to write because writing seemed closer
to our friendship, what I would never achieve over
the phone; what a card could never accomplish.

I was sorry to hear your news — and then time
passed and I thought it was too late for me to say
anything — accepting that I had been too rude to act —
inexact, and purposeless, I had accomplished nothing.

I’m sorry your son died. Your wife died. Your father
died, your mother died. Your lover died. Your boss
died, your bank teller died, your car died, your battery
died; your clock died.
He would be so much older now.
She would be. They would be. He would be older than
me, you, we would be, at his age. She would have been
there for you, helped you handle it, she always took care
of everything beautifully, so his passing away was right
in line with the moon, or whatever constellations play
their part in these things.

I wish you could taste
the oranges I am eating right now. They are as sweet
as grapes, like strawberries, ripe melons, apples juiced
with ripe peaches and pints of cherries, bananas,
exotic fruits with unpronounceable names, in sweet
surrender I gulp nectar as if I were drowning in it,
a thousand stylized goldfish swim towards me bearing
platters of Chinese fruit, flowering trees, bamboo flutes.

The seeds are within the compost; who will love you now?
Who will know you, who will talk to you, who will listen,
explain to you, help you get money, get you to work on time?
What will you do? How will your heartbeat now that it is gone?

These words serve little purpose. They cannot take away your pain.
And I have not expunged my own. I only want you to know I think
I know how you feel. I feel crummy too — that I took so long
to acknowledge your grief.
We are so much older. When we were
younger we would have handled this better. We would have worn
white shirts and ties, dark suits, shuffled appropriately, and then
shuffled again, away from parents, tea and coffee, psalms, prayers,
cocktail olives and little sandwiches with the crusts cut off, running
down the road, drinking and dancing and wandering around after
everything was closed, looking for someone to fuck, someone we
would never find because we were so anxious; and the city’s lights
were anonymous, and we were shadows swimming away in a moon
lit night, when the clouds looked like enticing countries and the
sidewalks were small kitchen tiles, running away from home.