This is the literary weblog of Jeffrey W. Hull, M.D., a pediatrician. It is intended mainly as a place to maintain a collection of poetry created for the enjoyment of a few friends and as an archive for my family. All material is protected by US copyright.

Jeffrey Hull

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

In Memoriam

On a more serious note, a reflection on insensitivity and unthinking cruelty.

In Memoriam

Can't quite remember him or who he was,
   That face now missing that we scarce recall;
We'll say, "Let’s send a card," though no one does,
   And no one gives his family a call ...

Or was he even married? Is there a wife,
   Or better put, a widow who's bereaved,
Or anyone at all who mourns this life
   That desperate anonymity achieved?

His spirit slipped dimensionless between
   The atoms of our adamantine hearts;
He passed, and like some spectre was unseen
   And missed no more than when a cloud departs.

His loneliness he must have learned to numb;
   I know if I were he that it would gall
To see us toss his memory a crumb:
   It's best we not remember him at all.

© 2005 Jeffrey Hull


It is 4:00 am as I write this. I was just awakened by a recovering alcoholic who has just relapsed and is near suicide. I am a recovering alcoholic myself. I have been sober for over four years now. I know the pain that this man is going through. I will be working with him throughout the morning and through the day. His main dilemma, the one he constantly raises under his present condition, is his fear of being alone. There are many aspects of his background that I am sure enter into his present state of mind, but this is the one that has surfaced today. So the subject of the wonderful poem that you have posted is very apt for me this morning. The idea of being forgotten is one that exists during life as well as when one is gone. And the response to that fear or situation is important in either case.

We are all of one creator in this world. We are one family in motion on this planet. And we are affected by each others behavior, whatever that may be. Hopefully, empathy and compassion will be its guiding light.
Thanks for posting your very needed thoughts on the matter. Hopefully, those who read it will take the time to reflect on the message.
Thank you for your response. I have never received a finer compliment for my work. I struggled long with this piece; the subject matter and the expression of my sentiments were difficult to wrestle with, and it is taking a risk to publish something this emotionally charged. I am glad I did. I recall these words from my old Prayerbook:

"May the Lord bless and keep you
And make His countenance to shine upon you."
I thought you would like to know that the alcoholic in question as to my previous comment has improved and will be moving forward with his life. He will not be alone. There will be many there to help him who share the sentiments and compassion that is the subeject of your beautiful poem. Thank you again.
It seems almost trivial to add after the above exchange of comments, but I like this poem very much too. It builds as it goes and it ties everything up in the last line.

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