When Silence Fails

It is almost exactly ten years
since we shared drunken kisses
in an unheated bar
in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Later that night, drunker still,
a kiss broke into laughter
when we rolled off my bed
and fell to the floor.

Ten years later: you
still in Tennessee, in Nashville, me
in Phoenix, Arizona. A catch-up
conversation: You told me about
your kidney transplants, addiction
to pain medication, recovery,
getting engaged, breaking it off,
buying a house, rescuing dogs,
traveling, getting happy.
“I learned a lot and am so not afraid
of things. It’s pretty great!” you wrote.
You said your health was the best
it had ever been, and we laughed
about the new series of Beavis and
Butt-Head. You had just found a
new boyfriend: “I am absolutely nuts
about him.” Seventeen days later,
you died in your sleep, forty-six days
past your thirty-seventh birthday.

Writing to someone who will never
read it—a worn-out poetic convention,
still in use only because of its necessity.
Elegies, like funerals, are survival
tools for the living. I write these words
of love, beautiful Danielle, because
silence fails me.

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