And suddenly I remember his suicide seven years ago, our long talks about Jim Morrison and writing poetry when we were nineteen and stoned, gulping beer in his Dad's pickup, all of life before us, including his last phone call in 1989 prophesying war in the Middle East, and all the violence to follow, telling me in a voice that didn't sound like what I remembered that he was about to be "blooded" and that "nothing will be the same again."
A long way to fall.
And Dan and I on a fire escape at the University of Vermont at night, 1991, early November, drinking brandy from a shared thermos and watching everybody walk back and forth below us, not knowing who hovered above them, happy and happier, wondering how people lived who were other than "Dan and I."
A longer way to fall.
And learning you are falling falling.
And the bones of her face and the strong waters of her eyes and her hair which was never as red as she thought but closer to persimmon, cinnamon.
And her voice - soft and melodic - always a surprise, always emphasizing unbridgeable distances.
And a long way to fall, and no way not to fall, and falling, always falling.
And another suicide, an uncle in New Hampshire, both barrels against the back of his throat after his wife died, leaving what my cousin called "a damn mess we couldn't clean" and so they cut that part of the kitchen wall out and rebuilt it, and eventually a buyer came along who didn't care or could overlook it.
And another cousin dying of a drug overdose at a truck stop in California, a paperback half open on the seat beside him, which they threw into the sea with his ashes.
And a cousin in jail.
And lost cousins.
And falling and falling - toppling - which is neither a beginning nor an end - but this, this this, as if there were only this, which there is, but only in the shallowest sense imaginable which is to say, not at all.
And sunlight on the barn roof and the moon a pale husk on western hills and the word "dawn" - I can say this now - awkward on my tongue and unwelcome in my writing.
Falling into a generative past in which I adored you, woke you kissing you, made a morning ritual of making you morning tea or coffee, tagged along with you in libraries and used bookstores holding books for you so you could browse easier, sheltered your writing space, made fires and cut wood and went for long walks in landscapes Emily Dickinson loved with a dog we both loved with you.
And at night the owls and deeper yet the bears and deeper yet the cats nobody is sure are there but which are there.
And at night, rain, and in the rain yet more rain, and in that rain a flood, a biblical one.
Walking at night back and forth on Main Street trying to find my way into the heart of fearing the rain in order to undo fearing the rain, and failing, another kind of falling, a late gift from a God who isn't quite ready yet to give up seeking His Self in Himself in me.
And the Great Mother who brought you to me, with ritual and intention, moving the Heavens and upending the weddings.
And this emptiness, which is not empty, and this fullness which is not full, and this loneliness forgetting itself, perfecting itself, all by itself no longer at the altar we make in the us we become in love.