Able to choose by Patrick T. Reardon

David (1955)

Able to choose

Let me honor your courage
to take your life. Oh, David,
why could you not find the
bravery to break out of your
prison before that, the penitentiary
Dad and Mom erected to keep
them safe from your raw life?
They could not live outside the
prison they made for themselves
and for you. And, in the end,
you couldn’t.

Oh, David, I flew. I protected
myself. Why didn’t you take to
the wing and grow your hair long
and really say fuck you to the church
and to Mom and Dad and find the raw
ripe life that always eluded you.

I am walking to Evanston through a
cold autumn afternoon, and my nose
runs as if I am crying on this trail of
tears and it almost seems that I am.
But I’m not, of course. You know,
David, that we learned early that
crying did us no good.

Oh, David, you were victimized and
victimized yourself. You tried to be
your deep self inside the world they
made so you could not find your
depth. It warped you, and, damn it,
David, it warped me and the others.

Oh, David, you sought to be strong but
fell under the their weight. The world
was so full, but you could never get to
it wearing their straitjacket. You thought
each book you read was right, had to be
right. She taught you there was only true
and false, right and wrong, and she was
the one who
decided.

Oh, David, I wish you could have heard
the music I heard. I wish you could have
risen up and out and beyond on the wings
of words and beauty and disturbing visions.
You could have. It could have happened.

Damn it, David. Why did I survive?

Our last talk,
hours before
the shot was
our most real.

I loved you in
that moment
as I love you
now as I have
loved you from
your birth. In
that moment, I
saw your depth,
and we stood
together, knowing
neither of us had
anything we could
do beyond what
we had been able
to choose.

Your smile was an
explosion.

Originally published in Requiem for David by Patrick T. Reardon (Silver Birch Press, 2017)

Patrick T. Reardon is the author of eight books, including Requiem for David, a poetry collection published in 2017 by Silver Birch Press, and Faith Stripped to Its Essence, a literary-religious commentary on Shusaku Endo’s Silence, the basis of the recent Martin Scorsese movie, published in 2016 by ACTA. Reardon worked for 32 years as a reporter with the Chicago Tribune, specializing in urban affairs, and is now writing a book about the untold story of the impact of the elevated railroad Loop on the stability and development of Chicago. His essays, book reviews and poetry have appeared frequently in American and European publications.

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