What strengthened me, for you was lethal.
                                           – Czesław Miłosz

I was never bent on saving you.
It seemed to mean a kind of coddling language:
the easy I hear you, the unnatural You’re seen.
Anyhow, I couldn’t step away from drinking
long enough to seem credible
when it came to addiction.

Am I keeping it straight?
I mean I don’t regret a thing.

You knew my silence was a way to love.

Spinoza said that if a triangle could speak
it would have triangular gods.
So I kept quiet, knowing my speech would deify you,
you who were normal only as the sky is normal.
I mean you hung around all unexplained,
with an imperceptible weightiness and a good smile.
And from the beginning your stature was my salvation,
taking my eyes to certain heights

until I noticed spires and birds and all the other poems
floating around your head.
If I said a word I’d chase you both off, poem and person,
because poetry is a body embodying a hope
faint as the edges of a shadow being lit;
and your body had always been a fragile gadget
living by being among the shadows that it lights.

You and poetry have scared me
into becoming a better person,
someone more honest
than all these exaggerations.

Any moment Apollo will cut my throat.

I place a bloomed poppy on your headstone
to commemorate what we had in common:
being killed by the very thing that animates.
I place a poppy on your headstone
in hopes you’ll rise up for a fix.
 
 Photo by Ladycliff

Colin Dekeersgieter

Colin Dekeersgieter's poems have appeared in The Paris-American, The Worcester Review, Best American Literature: New England, and elsewhere. He holds an MA from the CUNY Graduate Center and an MFA in Poetry from New York University, where he was a Goldwater Fellow.

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