Sunday, September 05, 2004

Today all poems and songs are about Jody...

I was out with P-Doug and G last night (Saturday). We went to the restaurant we call "Larry's Chicken" (because our friend Larry once lived near it, and it serves chicken) and in the course of the evening, P-Doug tossed off a line from Dylan Thomas's Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (or paraphrased it, actually; he said something about 'going gentle into that good, good night', but I got the reference). I thought of the first three lines, which is all most people really know...

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Immediately they evoked memories of Jody. In the past few days, his uncle Jesse and I have kind of gotten back around to talking about him, after leaving the subject sort of unmentioned for several weeks. Jesse related to me that on the day Jody was called in for his diagnosis last fall, he had his mom, Jesse, Aunt Kim, and his friend Mark from work with him for moral support. What they told him was that he had two years at most, a 2% chance of beating those odds, and he should concentrate on living as well as he could in the meantime.

No way. Jody wanted treatment. He'd fought cancer once and wasn't going to just roll over to it after all that pain and suffering before. Jody was not going gentle into that good night. He raged against it right to the end.

I don't know what I'd do. I guess you can't give up. Life is too dear. It's funny... when he was younger, he was petulant about it. Often alluded to suicide and the cheapness of his own life, the way only teenagers and really young people can, because in the backs of their minds, they know (or believe) that they have decades before them. Life is still an embarrassment of riches. Then one day you're 24 and they tell you have have stage 4 malignant cancer. Life's not cheap anymore. You become a miser with it. Jody did. He came out of himself, embraced his friends and acknowledged the value of his life. That's why I'll always harbour questions for God about the point of showing a young man all that, just to rob him of his life a year later. But the discussions with Jesse last week brought back memories I guess I'd buried in the back of my mind about Jody telling me the same things in late October or early November. I remember him saying to me around the time of our birthdays in April that he couldn't believe six months, a quarter of his alotted remaining time, had already slipped away... As it turned out, nearly all of it had.

I'm no Dylan Thomas, but I do write poems from time to time. Last weekend, I decided to undertake some free-association poetry... something I haven't done since university, well over a decade ago now. I closed my eyes and typed. One poem quickly became about Jody. When the line about cancer was born in my mind, I balked. I thought, I can't write that... But then I realized, this is something inside my mind that needs to be born, spoken, acknowledged. Isn't that what poetry is all about? And so I set it free, and pursued it. This is what I got from it. I don't know if it stands up generally, but it means a lot to me, so I thought I'd share it with any who happen by... and maybe Jody, if somehow he's privy to all this, somewhere, somehow.

Pulls Down the Mighty Sun

My sculptured island
Floats adrift in blood
The hot, salty seas of my heart
The amber gloss
Of all about me
Is sandy shore on which to beach
The pounding surf of my blood

My happy cancer
Invades my seas
Pulls down my forests
Pulls down the mighty sun
That is me

Why is this storm alone with me
No other soul in the world
Can hold one scratch of my pain
This is a universe alone

Protracted seconds seem years
On alert for war
That never ends
Minutemen of minute men advance
Within the foggy valleys of my bones
O mystic fighter, save us!
Bend down thy holy hand
And make peace with all this
Evil inside me, not of me
Why won’t you listen?

Prognosis is time in abeyance
With no soft hope for backwards
This always comes
Peculiar line
Of hopeless reasoning
Learn and it can help you
Well that’s what they always said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I'll always harbour questions for God about the point of showing a young man all that, just to rob him of his life a year later."
I dont have a direct line to God... But perhaps Jody's purpose was to touch the people around him and make them better people. Perhaps his short life was more meaningfull than many long lived one...
PS: Nice poem