I need no photograph to remember you
as you snowshoed that night,
you in the pool of your lamp
and me stumping behind,
the cold wrapping around us tighter than the dark,
the snow falling so fast it clicked and grew
into the otherness that hung all around.
Go before me dearest, go before me, I thought,
this trail won’t last forever.
And while I can taste the evening at its end,
I can also hear the voices of our loved ones
calling us as ever they did, enigmatically, softly—
but still, calling. So yes, dearest, go before me;
I’d rather you content in the warmth and the glow
than anything else I could ever want.
Leave the cold to me, go before me.
The setting for this poem was the wonderful winterscape of Ashland, New Hampshire, where my wife, Lyn, and I took a skiing/snowshoeing vacation some years back. The incident that was the generative spark for this poem was a snowshoe trek in the late evening that quickly turned dark and snowy while we were out on the trail. I remember thinking how lucky I was. True, it was cold, late and dark, yet I was with Lyn, the love of my life, out in nature, being us, being together, being there.
Some may think the underlying message of this poem is morbid, but I do not think it is. Neither of us fears death, but I know that whoever goes first, the other will be horribly lonely and lost. If it is my preference (and it is not, but still, there you are) I would save Lyn that pain.
Thank you for reading Go before me. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.
The photograph was taken during that trip to Ashland, New Hampshire. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.
© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.