Presence

by Mark Chmiel

I had a shrine for a while
A photo collage of the greatest hits of your life
I meditated on it on those bright desolate winter days
Your effervescence somehow emanating
from the black and white photos
(much less so from the color)
I wanted to remember and I later realized
Forgetting was vital too

Can I say your presence has been like no other?
Yes and no

Your bursts of passion
Your laughter at yourself
Your ability to be with and stay open to all kinds of human characters
Your scrupulous self-awareness
My heart and soul—
How you filled my heart and soul!
The book I wrote about you was a failure in so many ways
Because how could those pages
Evoke your spiritual fervor
Your erotic playfulness
Your owned fear and accepted ego
Your flippancy toward a just-shaved head

Still Thich Nhat Hanh  offered  me skillful teachings
I’ve come to see that you inter-are
With people who never even knew you
For example so many times this calendar year
I’ve seen and heard you in Alejandra
I wrote about Cece’s smile that resurrected me
On one of those bereft days
Like you when Pete Mosher was with us
He was totally there (even in such a diminished state)

Whom I once savored
Held on to
Squeezed
Strolled with on the beaches of Sicily
Pushed in a wheelchair in the last months
That form is no more

But you continue to manifest somehow
Even when I myself can be present
To someone deep in anguish
As we were for each other
20 short years ago

Cambridge

Cambridge, Massachusetts

–from Metta Writing class, Magnolia Place, a Thursday in July

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