His Softness


His Softness

What name would survive
had you not stepped into the water

that day? Memory assigned
a separate word, another given,

and the face I’d placed with you
appeared in front of me

fifteen years later, in another
setting, miles away

and still breathing. How
may I honor you

if not by name? I recall
the gray ocean and how

umbrellas struggled in
the wind, and reading

in the weekly newspaper
a month after

that you had never emerged.
Now your name still lies there,

somewhere, under the surface,
unattached yet moving with

the current, and I,
no matter how I strain,

can’t grab it. Time after time,
it slips away. Just slips away.

.* * *

Many thanks to Sarah Rivera, who sponsored this poem and provided the title during last August’s Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. “His Softness” was published in January 2016 in the inaugural edition of Mockingheart Review. I am participating in this August’s 30/30 Challenge, and appreciate any support you’re able to provide – good thoughts, encouragement and donations to Tupelo Press are all welcome.

23 thoughts on “His Softness

  1. “I recall the gray ocean and how umbrellas struggled in
    the wind…”

    Adding the “struggling” umbrellas, hinting at the struggle inherent in drowning… that is really powerful! And connecting the grave with an undercurrent and struggle again… complete and utter WOW! That is why you are such a ferociously gifted writer!!

    An infinite amount of stars out of 5!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the follow, Robert! I know we were following each other at one time in the far distant past, glad to reconnect. I admire your work, so now I will know (again) when you post, post haste!

    I am weeping now, tragic loss is the real demon in our lives, a beast that is very hard to conquer, but can be conquered, with time and commiseration.

    Thank you, Robert, for sharing this piece that must have been quite difficult to write.


    Jamy Sweet

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I felt such sadness and loss; the piece hurt me.
    It said read me again, aloud.
    It called to mind Donne’s For Whom the Bell Tolls,
    … If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less…
    Each man’s death diminishes me…

    I was diminished by your poem. And that’s a good thing.
    Thank you for straining my vulnerability.


    Liked by 1 person

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