for Marek Alexandre Boleslaw Goertz

a soft red velvet bag, with a necklace of beads
that spell the name we knew him by,
the name we will recall him with.

a lake, wrapped in green pine hills as the ashes
and not-quite crushed bones that were once my oldest friend are held, for a moment, in my arms.

"you've lost weight, Bobo..."

a scandalous thought?
an appropriate one?

cluster of umbrellas shift on crunching stones, murmuring voices and sobs soft as breath.
one by one, little hands and larger ones gather
what remains of him here and set him free again,
into this pretty, peaceful lake.

the sky too is full of tears, and since i don't have any of my own, i take off the hat of his, that's come to me and stare eyes shut into this saddening sky...

...until my fingers too slip into these bits of bone and ash and i lay my hand onto, into the cool muddening water, swirling my fingers

and i am murmuring too...

"if i don't meet you no more in this world,
i'll meet you on the next one....

i move along, standing further and further aside and look back up into that sky again for more of those misty tears. i hold my hands out, palms up, as i have been taught so long ago by other waters not so far away and thank the creator, for having been a part of the journey of such a strange angel as this, my friend...

whose days and worse-yet nights were so often filled with a pain beyond speaking, beyond healing and who yet would fill so many rooms and days and nights and memories with so much joy and golden laughter...

who even now as i stop to think of him again comes to me only as a smile, and other smile, and another, like a roomful of mirrors...

i've never found much comfort in catechisms; i don't presume to know the name of god or that he knows me by mine; it's rare enough even now after all these years that i can even hold the wonder of creation in my mind's eye long enough to catch a moment's rapture, or to be thankful for the miracle my senses immerse me in each day...

but i do take comfort in this moment, this lake, this gathering and the feeling that my dearest, oldest friend is now beyond the pain he could never transcend too long here.

and i take comfort that when i think of him now it is the smiling and the laughter and the magic i remember...


later this same day, as the ashes settle into the lake, a larger group convenes in a hall by salty water for stories and wine and food all evocative of himself...

i make it as far as the entrance, take a few steps inside and return to porch outside the door. on my best day, i do not do crowds well or interiors, and this is far from a best day. andy and i go back almost as long together as we each do with mark, and together we convene a small, whispering wake, single malt and cigarettes as we watch the tide and the river of faces come and go...

among them, some rise into focus as though they too were emerging from the waters of memory into the here and now. there are strong embraces that linger, warm as blood and we meet each other's eyes more fearlessly than we ever could before today.

in my ear, mark whispers "today, i will drink only mescal". i take the bottle from my pack and whisper back "tonight, i will drink only absinthe".


i am thankful to be at this gathering, and that those more able than i have conjured it, even if this rainy porch is as close i can draw near. i am glad to see some of these faces again after so long, and to hold some of these hearts close again, if only for a moment or two.

before the afternoon is over, there will even be a moment to make a little peace where there hasn't been any for far too long with someone mark and i both traveled a long way with...i'm glad to feel a sincere desire to do that, and then to actually do it, with his family looking on.

many of the people here are strangers to me and i'm glad of that too. there is only one where i harbour an evil feeling. i imagine just how easy it would be to draw him into an embrace, then drive my knee into his nuts, give him a glasgow kiss and while he writhes on the ground, whisper a promise of more to come, one day soon. i savour that image for a moment, and then i let it go...like ashes, into the water...


the days that follow are even more dream-like than usual. my journey here has been a long one. i've left behind a father drifting further into his own raging orbit every day, and a brother whose cancer has taken his legs and now threatens his life, but this is not why i have come or am content to be here now, remembering...

there will never be another man like this, and so there will never be another death like this. for all his pain, no one moved through so many worlds with such ease and grace, no one ever lit a room or a journey with joy as he could and this gathering was, i think, his last and loving gift to the rest of us who shared his journey.

what we do with our memories of mark, or with the blunt reminder that 'someday' never comes, what we do with the knowledge he has impressed upon us all so vividly that none of us know the name or number of our busy, busy days is only and ever up to us...



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