We are like innumerable leaves
fluttering in a rainforest,
often lost to all but our neighbours.
Some cling long past withering winter, while others
fail, dropping even as the chlorophyll
sings green songs in our veins.
Billions of humans dance and strain
to build a future or live another day.
As we struggle and sleep through life’s jumbled melee,
some of our intimates and compadres go astray.
Acquaintances lurk in old dairies whose pages are never turned.
We could have been friends, but we pass them on the street,
unsure if a discreet smile
would be welcomed or shunned.
A single click, and your blog filled my screen.
Over the weeks, you tore screaming secrets
from your cavern of shame,
displayed them across a page stained
with typos and spelling mistakes, writing like
you were running out of time.
You’d promised the women in prison that if you were bailed, you would tell their tale; shout the truth about prison conditions, to try to improve them; the blog was the only way you knew.
I read your story, wore your mess
like a faded vest you’d courageously thrown off
to stand naked, displaying ill-chosen,
amateurishly inked tattoos,
because it was the right thing to do.
My pained flesh swelled
through the tattered shreds of your history.
You could say I felt pity
for an existence so splintered by addiction that you risked
losing your children, your freedom
and maybe your life,
but I call it
I liked you.
Avidly, I followed your blog, commenting on every post, offering emotional support and words of comfort. I don’t expect you knew how much I meant it.
You said that when you pressed the trigger, you didn’t intend to send the bullet through the bedroom wall. It was the accident of an agonised mind, suffering the struggle between another breath and final silence. I believe you.
For a few weeks, three years ago,
you wrote feverishly, but
the posts ceased.
I haven’t forgotten you.
If you are a leaf,
did you drop?
You matter to me.
I hope not, but I may never know.
©Jane Paterson Basil