Elegy for a Suicide

By John Poch

She always liked to blow the candles out. Fact:
there’s only so much you can do with friction
and an intentional hand before the hand burns.
The sound that scissors make in a child’s hand
while crunching construction paper aches when
she grows older. Even popcorn ceilings lose that style,
that feeling of a cereal freshly drowned in milk.
Ah, the white beneath things. And the black below that.
We come down from bunk beds. We come down from
the funky reds and yellows of the spring’s summer tanager
gone in fall. We fail to see the most vivid birds
high in the trees on the other side of leaves.
Where did those sad seeds come from or how take root?
Her departure spun out of some samara down into a maple
shadow that shadows well into night’s sweet syrup.
O host, we don’t know the words for this country,
and this country pretends we have no knife,
no guns in the bedroom, no large car for escaping
or crashing over hard hillsides or into houses.
We stuff our faces, blank as pills, with pills.
No one wants to open that book, but it’s a book.
noire

Of course, a poem like this makes you think that I am having suicidal thoughts or something, and that is not true. I just love elegiac poetry, and this one is beautiful. There is so much grief, loss, and pain in the death of an animal. For those of us who are not going to be parents to human children (and even to those who are) animals are such beautiful companions. Noire was like my child, and lived the lifetime of a child, 19 years. From my senior year in high school to the last year of my graduate school career, she grew from a super tiny fluff ball to a still tiny, still fluffy, but mature cat, with a personality like an old Jewess from Brookline, Massachusetts. The world doesn’t stop for pet death though, and I can’t sit shiva and have dear friends and family by my side, putting away the world for the first week, and be in mourning for a month, a year. I can post poetry though, and on her yahrzeit, I will light candles, and recite the mourners kaddish:

Yit’gadal v’yit’kadash sh’mei raba

Amein.

b’al’ma di v’ra khir’utei
v’yam’likh mal’khutei b’chayeikhon uv’yomeikhon
uv’chayei d’khol beit yis’ra’eil
ba’agala uviz’man kariv v’im’ru:
Amein. Y’hei sh’mei raba m’varakh l’alam ul’al’mei al’maya
Yit’barakh v’yish’tabach v’yit’pa’ar v’yit’romam v’yit’nasei
v’yit’hadar v’yit’aleh v’yit’halal sh’mei d’kud’sha
B’rikh hu.

l’eila min kol bir’khata v’shirata
toosh’b’chatah v’nechematah, da’ameeran b’al’mah, v’eemru:
Amein

Y’hei sh’lama raba min sh’maya
v’chayim aleinu v’al kol yis’ra’eil v’im’ru
Oseh shalom bim’romav hu ya’aseh shalom
aleinu v’al kol Yis’ra’eil v’im’ru
Amein

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