by Lauren Singer*
i am learning that you were stronger
than you ever told any of us.
that what you couldn't say with your sparing voice
you screamed with your fingers.
that you were wiser in your modesty,
in your hesitance, in your truths and muted angers.
that you touched people you never knew,
that you touched all of those you did,
and asked for nothing.
i am learning that fear is braver than acceptance,
that saying nothing in earnest is more profound than empty offerings.
that healing doesn't mean getting used to it
and that moving on does not mean letting go.
i am learning that grown men still play with toys,
and that you were no exception.
that six year old boys
would have been jealous of your action figure collections,
and that teapots and ceramic cats could mean more to me
than diamonds and new cars.
i am learning that you were more perceptive than you let on,
and that you lived inside your head;
created a masterpiece there.
that your books were your life partners,
and your camera was your mistress.
that not all pictures speak a thousand words,
but that yours could break a thousand hearts.
i am learning that you lived more than most of us will understand,
that you taught more than you could possibly have realized.
and that you spoke less than you acted.
that those who knew you as a good man,
now realize you were exceptional.
i am learning that you loved beer as much as sake,
ground beef as much as miso soup.
that you inspired us to be forthcoming and adventurous with our ideas,
and judged no one based on their inhibitions.
that you were forgiving, humble, and tactful
as much as you were intent on speaking your mind.
that you are as much a part of me
as you are a part of the great sky.
i am learning that you are never really gone
because you remain as you lived; everywhere in each of us.
that you are japan, st. marks, london, teaneck, freeport and philadelphia;
and every other place that you were moved, or moved someone else.
that winning the battle does not mean surviving,
but being survived with so much admiration.
and i am learning what you taught me:
that if you go fishing
you catch fish.
and you did, too.