I saw a man yesterday.
He stood at a gravestone. In grass, at an angle to the front of the stone. So he could read the epitaph, but did not have to absorb it head on. The pitiless truth of death a glancing blow.
He had a yellow trucker’s cap on. Bright yellow, with mesh around the back. Printing on the cap in cheery white letters. One size fits all.
He had on velcro walking shoes, tan slacks, and a blue windbreaker. It was a warm day. The sun did not reach him.
He stood in mourning. He stood in confusion (he knew WHY he was standing there – I don’t mean that).
I mean THIS: he was confused why he hadn’t gone WITH her.
‘What am I going to do with the rest of the day?’
His handlers stood a respectful distance away; midway between the grave and the sedan. As if he had asked them before to leave him alone with grief.
Sometimes he wants to feel the full dose of sadness. Sometimes others standing close don’t actually help him take the pain. The unalloyed concentration of feeling. The hammered, throbbing thumb before the numbing ice. Keening.
A purity of searing solitude is the only song he can hear.
Who of us knows that pain, or that loss, or that grief? I only know enough to not speak, especially to a man in a yellow cap and tears in the creases of his face.
The tear gets hung up on a few stray whiskers before it tracks off his jaw, down his loosened neck, and into his frayed collar.
Why should he? Wear a new shirt, that is.
He hopes he won’t be around long enough to need a new wardrobe.
And yet, he still visits the grave. He puts his hand in his pocket. Resolutely jangles his change. Adjusts his cap. Roughly brushes his nose with a clubbed hand. Allergy season. Not despair.
There is a nobility there. Easier to stay inside. Watch the television (even though there are no good programs on anymore) (And he can’t watch their favorite program, either – she isn’t there to laugh with him).
“Noblesse Oblige” – The art of doing the right thing because people are counting on you to set the standard. Even when, especially when, it is hard.
He is a member of the royalty of the wounded. The only way in is through suffering. The doorway to the club appeared after his first gallon of tears. It opened after he stopped counting the mornings that he threw half a pot of coffee away. After the creamer (only she drank it) went sour.
Do they sell butter half a stick at a time?
I saw a man yesterday.
I saw a noble man.