Every soul that crosses the Styx is precious. But when it belongs to a poet, it’s a special kind of light that is extinguished.
I knew one such light. Well, “knew” is a big word; our paths crossed once or twice many years ago. I warmed my heart by his flame, and he by mine, and that was all. I met him online, on a poetry-sharing website where we both shared our work. When I read his first comment on my poems, I was intrigued by his username – poetwithcancer. He was in the terminal stage, but never once did that dim his light. In fact, it only burned brighter.
We hardly communicated, only exchanging comments from time to time, but he was always gracious and kind. All I knew of him was his name, Michael, and his death sentence, cancer. And yet I knew everything about him.
You see, when a poet writes, he bares his soul. The tenderness, the joy and grief hidden behind the mask are uncovered. When a poet writes, he is letting you reach into his chest and pull out his heart, and hold it beating in the palm of your hand.
I never saw Michael’s face, but I held his heart. And he held mine.
And you know, it’s strange how lights go out without anyone noticing, like stars simply fade into the dawn; but that’s how he went. A poet is like a whisper, you see, and leaves behind a hollowness that is only noticeable when you stop and listen. But when you do, it’s like the whole starry sky has gone black.
I will miss Michael, even though we only stumbled past each other on our journey to the dawn. His flame warmed my heart, and mine his, and that was all – and yet, it not everything?
His last poem was titled “Hello-Goodbye”, and you can read it here. The first line of the second stanza rings truest of all.
Goodbye, precious bearer of dream…