A Man Remembered – A Poem

There was a seanetherlandsbutterflycropcircle

of police cars in

front of my building.

They dotted the pavement,

their lights shining like

flowers caught in the snow.

Entering my building,

I saw a stretcher in front

of the elevators. It was

red and empty. I wondered

what had happened,

if someone was hurt.

I saw the super standing

by the elevators, as if lost.

He looked unreachable.

I moved towards him,

called his name softly so

that he would hear me.

I had the sense something

was very wrong indeed.

He looked up at me,

hearing my approach.

“What’s wrong? What happened?”

My voice seemed loud,

echoing off the lobby walls,

the lobby itself somehow

bigger than it was.

When he raise his eyes to mine,

they were red and swollen,

tears having dried along his face,

marking his skin like ink.

“You know the man downstairs?”

He asked me. His voice was cracked

and dry, as if he had forgotten

how to speak. I shook my head,

unsure of who he meant.

“He wasn’t well. Very paranoid. He’d changed his locks so no one could get in.”

I was silent, not sure what to say;

not sure there was anything

that could be said. The super

let out a sound that was

part breathe of release

and part sob. He took a

deep breath and I imagined him

swallowing the sob, as if he

taking it back into him.

“I’ve never seen a dead body. People were complaining about the smell.”

I found my voice, a small

quiet part of it that slipped

past my lips

“Didn’t anyone know him? Any family? Someone must have known him.”

The super shook his head,

more tears sliding down his

face in the tracks left

by the ones that had dried.

“He didn’t have anyone. He was alone.”

The sob broke free then and he

turned away for a moment.

When he turned back, he was

more composed, holding it together.

“You always hear about this in the movies, you know? This doesn’t feel like a movie.”

I nodded, my voice having gone again.

I needed to get away, to feel the

cool air upon my face.

As I walked out of my building,

I watched the blue and red lights

make patterns on the snow.

I breathed in the air,

relishing its bite,

grateful that I was alive

to feel it upon my skin.

When I walked back into my building,

they were bringing the stretcher

out of the elevator. This time,

it wasn’t empty. This time,

the man lay upon it,

encased in a cocoon. It reminded me

of a red chrysalis.

I stood to the side as

other men took the man outside

and away from me.

I watched him go and wondered

why there was no one that

would find out about him,

no one who would miss him,

mourn his passing, no one

who would remember him

for the man that he used to be.

I gave the super a final nod,

which he returned, before

going back inside my apartment.

Once inside, gathered some sage

that I had purchased.

I said a short prayer for him

and hoped that he could hear me.

“I just want you to know that even though we never met, I’ll remember you.”

I took a breath than and

lit the sage, watching the flakes

turn into fragrant smoke.

“You’re free now. Free. So be at peace. I’ll remember you.”

As I watched the smoke

from the sage float towards the ceiling,

I pictured his spirit,

free from the chrysalis of his body.

I pictured his spirit.

He had finally grown wings

so that he could fly

home. I watched the sage

burn out.

“I’ll remember you.”

I said.

One Comment on “A Man Remembered – A Poem

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