Flip's Poem

Flip's Poem

Trial by Fire

Heat. Searing, hissing heat.
So fiery that nothing within can retain its form.
Incinerating, collapsing all known structure for emotion--
                       constitutional chaos provoked by this scorching Hell,
             from blinding pain so deep it overcomes you,
                                                                          becomes you.

Extremities, limbs, viscera, all throbbing,
                     burning from confusion,
                               from grief flowing like lava through the veins.
All other function on hold, displaced by trying to manage that bridge
           from one leaden second to the next.

Another cremation, or so it may seem at the time.
                     But ultimately not.
           Ashes indeed result.
           From layers and layers of tissue peeling off, being seared off,
           Vaporizing 'til only the central core lies exposed.

                      Naked. White hot.
                      Yet, tempering steel of strength as unimaginable
                                 as the process from which it is forged.

So, from the ashes slowly ascends the Phoenix.
Transformed, eyes wide open, empathetic, loving, clean, clear,

Its strength stemming from vulnerability,
           for with understanding comes the greatest vulnerability.
Strength from understanding, from surviving the fire,
           from loving what's been lost
           from not abandoning a forever unrequitable love,
           from daring to think about loving again.

Strength from learning fragility.
           Embracing fragility.
           Embracing life,
                      with the freshness of youth
                      and the wisdom of pain.

Strength from feeling everything bittersweet,
                      from feeling everything,
           from the cohabitation of richness with emptiness,
                                                  optimism with despair,
                                                  hope with resignation.
           Polar emotions somehow intertwined as natural bedfellows.

           Indeed, the richness of a tapestry
                      that draws from the full range of colors,
                      woven with threads of all textures.

A monument to courage, to having faced the enemy.
A life renewed--
           No, a life reformed.

Regaining the freshness, the wonderment of youth,
           but without the blind sense of immortality,
                      without the innocence.
           There is no innocence where
                      this love resides.
           This love that continues to burn as constant companion.

           This now pure unfettered, timeless love.
                      No longer desperate,
                                 for hope draws its nectar from time.
           A love free from all worldly distraction and danger.
           Stored safe in the innermost chambers of the heart.

This love which exacted such an unfathomable price,
           which gave everything,
           only to take it away.

           This fiery Hell love--

How can a love so without mercy
          teach that, in the end,
          there is nothing to live for
          but love?

March 1998

This is a poem I wrote in March 1998, a year and a half after my wife died. It is
about my grief over her death and the beginning of my emergence from it.

Flip's wife died from breast cancer.
Flip's e-mail address

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