I know this winter isn’t going to end.
The thought itself’s imperishably old.
What cold can best preserve, it cannot mend;

And cold preserves itself, so don’t pretend
That Spring will leaven spirits with its dole.
I know this winter isn’t going to end.

I’m not so bold that I could not defend
Against my guilt, against the life you stole.
But cold can best preserve what cannot mend,

So now, unlike Raskolnikov, I lend
No weight to claims that time can heal the soul.
I know this winter isn’t going to end.

The day you died, I ceased to be your friend;
Became instead the warden of your soul.
What cold can best preserve, it cannot mend.

Your life gave in to time and mine to cold,
And this, love, is my curse, my fate, my goal:
What cold can best preserve, it cannot mend;
I know this winter isn’t going to end.

Note: I wrote a somewhat different version of this for my friend Tracy when Chris died, years ago now. It’s a mild variation on a villanelle, a song form first used in 16th Century France. It’s simple, sentimental and true.

I found myself searching for something to say after Tracy wrote to tell me that a mutual friend had died, unexpectedly and far, far too soon. This is what came out.

It should really be sung, a capella, with a slowly moving melody reminiscent of Cathedrals, by Jump Little Children. Maybe Tori can come up with something….

It’s for John, and for all of those who knew Shannon best.

Only the Angels Cry

Nathan’s little boy died of nothing. The seven year-old got a boiler in his nose. It was painful, but nothing a course of antibiotics couldn’t fix. Nathan dutifully brought his boy to the island hospital, and requested treatment. As usual, there was no doctor present, but a nurse gave him some medicine. The pills were past their expiry date, but they were better than nothing.

The inflammation subsided, and the boy was able the sleep again for a while. The infection, however, didn’t disappear. Once the under-strength antibiotics had run their course, it came back with a vengeance.

To look at the boy, there wasn’t much wrong. A little swelling around one eye and nostril, but otherwise nothing. What you couldn’t see was the constant, excruciating pain as the infection moved into his sinuses and began to press against his brain.
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