And so you chose to leave us,
“without a trace,” slamming the door
in the face of friends and family.
No note. No explanation. Only
a few small, neat, accusatory piles
of personal items, in your apartment,
addressed to individuals you thought
would need to hear from you in some way;
and your new music website, closed out,
friends’ pictures gone, your recent songs
erased—all but the one about the “afterlife.”
A message, there? And then your dog,
the one you doted on, the one you loved
more than any other living being,
abandoned. Oh, you did leave her food
and water, and you locked the door
behind you with the knowledge
that she would be found, an d fed,
and cared for. Still, her presence there,
alone, made your disappearance seem
an act of desperation. And we, left
with nothing but the self-evidence
of your absence from our lives,
have no choice now but to invent
our own bleak stories, each of us
in our own way: that you chose
for reasons unfathomable to us,
to end your life; that the debts
you left behind you, the three months’
rent, the unpaid credit cards, the notice
of eviction, the disconnected telephone,
all proved too much. Or that the end
of some unknown, perhaps secret
love affair had left you in despair;
or even that a current, joyful one,
had caused you to elope to Canada
or other parts unknown, in ecstasy.
Or that you decided, not to end it all,
but simply disappear, to make a new life
south of the border, in Mexico, say,
or Costa Rico. Remember, you had done
something similar before, uprooting,
and heading north to San Francisco.
So much, though, for the jaunty tone
of your recent phone calls and emails.
So much for the frequent glib assurances
that you were doing fine. So much
for the upbeat descriptions of a new life,
a new apartment, new furniture and clothes.
It was all just another fiction, intended
to persuade yourself as much as us.
Whatever. And whatever choice you made,
this was the big fuck-you of all time,
Alistair, wasn’t it? An act of rage,
I’ll show them, a kind of vengeance
on what you saw to be an unkind world
aligned against you, inhabited
by unkind people, who never failed
to disappoint you. The final irony
being how much you were truly loved.
How much, already, knowing nothing,
so many of us miss you in our lives.
And all this time, out there, while you
hatched out your plot, in the real world,
Katrina was busy snatching human lives,
Rita was bearing down, and bloody chaos
continued to hold sway in Iraq. So what
are we to learn from this strange
synchronicity, if not the insecurity
of all being, the precious and vulnerable
gift of life, the only lasting value: love.

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