Saturday, August 16, 2014

After His Exeunt (for Robin Williams)

There are some people who find their way into our personal lives, regardless of whether or not we actually know them. Through their work, they become a part of our lives and feel like family. Robin Williams was one of those people.

I don't doubt we all have a Robin Williams story, some unique way he transcended the medium he worked through and became a mentor, a swashbuckling reason to have at least one happy thought, or just a friend with the vast and cosmic power to make you laugh at any given moment.

As passionate and bright as his legacy was and will be, the darkness that ultimately consumed him is something we all are having a justifiably difficult time processing. There is a powerlessness in watching people we care about battle mental illness. What can we do when all we can do is love and encourage, knowing all the while that it does nothing to actually heal their suffering? What is left for those who want nothing so much as to give back the love and beauty they've been given, but are powerless to actually do so, to break the darkness our loved ones are born into?

These questions led me to this week's poem. Not a persona poem, not anything nerdy (well, slightly...you'll have to be versed in Whovian, though...), not even anything terribly helpful. We are left in Robin Williams' wake with questions and hurt. I have questions. I need to understand.


After His Exeunt
~for Robin~ 

I'm reminded of Van Gogh.
Specifically, the pond-eyed dreamer
who dripped sunflowers from his fingertips,
who left footsteps so bright the soil drank them like daybreak,
but lived inside too thick a thundercloud to notice the eyes
made gaping constellations by his handiwork.

I'm reminded of the lesson
his life implied about depression,
the way no doctor or lover could ungather
the midnight that settled the pall of its folds on his shoulders.
How neither heartfelt appreciation or praise were equipped
to reciprocate the beauty he gave away so freely.

I'm reminded of Van Gogh,
but not by the casket-heavy emptiness
your noose ballooned underneath my throat.
Familiar enough this ache, but more the crushing uselessness
that leaves loving hands as helpful as two hooks, my mouth
a hollowed lamp, pried in vain for a magic word.

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